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Ontario Trucking Association Issues Roadmap in Natural Gas Implementation

The Ontario government published a climate change action plan, for a five year term, aimed at helping businesses and individuals to transition to a low carbon economy. The government plan specifies initiatives and programs totaling to C$8.3 billion to be spent over the next five years. These initiatives are expected to reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 9.8 million tons or at least below 15% of the 1990 levels, by 2020; the greenhouse gas emissions are further expected to reduce by 37% by the year 2030.

In order to assist the government in this initiative, The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) came out with a “Natural Gas as an Alternative Fuel for Canadian Truck Fleets: A Roadmap Toward Implementation.” report, detailing their requirements to work towards achieving the government plan.

This report is aimed at helping the government to come out with a heavy-duty truck design operating with natural-gas in place of diesel. The report, published by OTA examines where the Canadian fleets need to invest in, to make the transition to natural gas based vehicles. It covers areas like the vehicle, the station and the ancillary costs therein.

Related costs

The OTA report mentions that while direct costs like the vehicle and station cost is always taken into consideration, the ancillary costs are not usually understood well. Costs like the management time for evaluation of fleet transition, driver training, and facility upgrades that may be required, and other expenses to manage change come under this category.OTA President Stephen Laskowski mentioned in a statement that these ancillary costs make up for almost 10% of the total cost required for making the transition. Hence, as per him, funding was critical in these areas, without which the transition plans may fail due to frustration. It goes without saying that without funding, the frustration can affect truck driver jobs, which is a concern.

He further cautioned that the trucking companies are only in the business of moving freight and now necessarily fuel transition experts. He said that the transition program was likely to be successful, if the Ontario government assisted the industry in making a seamless transition to the natural gas vehicles.

Fund Request

The OTA stated that it is requesting the government for funding in the range of C$60,000 per natural gas vehicle to make up for the differential cost as compared to a diesel engine. The OTA also called for the government to provide the carriers with access to the incentives that were applicable to fuel suppliers for building fueling stations. This would help the carriers who may wish to install private stations of their own and operate their fleet. This would help the fleet owners save the truck driver jobs. The Rustbelt Group, commissioned by the OTA, conducted a study recently and put the estimated cost of vehicle and infrastructure, for a fleet of 20 trucks at $3.4 million. The study further puts the ancillary costs at $325,000, as per OTA.

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