What is the "Illinois Green Fleets Program?"
The Illinois Green Fleets Program is a voluntary program where businesses, government units, and other organizations in Illinois gain recognition and additional marketing opportunities for having clean, green, domestic, renewable, American fuel vehicles in their fleet. It is a program to recognize a fleet manager's progressive efforts in using environmentally friendly vehicles and fuels to improve air quality while promoting our domestic fuels for greater national energy security.
What types of fuels and vehicles make up an Illinois Green Fleet?
An Illinois Green Fleet is one that acquires vehicles using natural gas, propane, 85% ethanol (E-85), electricity, biodiesel, or other clean, American fuels. Vehicles acquired from the auto manufacturers and conversions will qualify. A fleet must have a portion of its vehicles being American Fuel Vehicles (AFVs) and these vehicles must use a clean, domestic fuel to qualify as an Illinois Green Fleet.
Why is the program being called "Illinois Green Fleets?"
"Green" has two meanings in this program.
First, fleets using clean, domestic fuels and vehicles are helping to reduce polluting emissions from motor vehicles and are providing significant benefits to improve air quality in our State.
Second, clean fuels such as natural gas, propane, E-85, biodiesel and electricity have economic benefits when compared with conventional fuels, often providing fuel cost savings for those governments and businesses using them today. In addition, AFVs have often demonstrated lower maintenance costs due to the cleaner-burning properties of the fuel. Therefore, "green" in this context signifies the economic advantages often experienced in using less expensive fuels, lower maintenance costs and saving money in the overall transportation budget while promoting environmental and domestic energy benefits.
Will the higher costs of vehicles that can operate with a clean, domestic fuel, along with the costs of implementing infrastructure, overtake the fuel cost savings and result in higher expenses for the fleet?
Most fleets that have implemented clean, domestic fuels, including infrastructure, have reported savings in the fleet budget. The costs of AFVs continue to decline as sales increase. E-85 vehicles are the same price as regular gasoline vehicles, and light-duty vehicles that operate with propane or natural gas are typically priced at $3,000 to $5,000 more. Currently, there are federal, state, and local government incentives as well as manufacturer incentives that minimize or nearly eliminate any upfront capital costs for vehicles and infrastructure over a short period of time. For example, the Illinois EPA has a rebate program covering 80 percent of the additional cost of an AFV or 80 percent of the cost of a conversion, up to $4,000 per vehicle. The State also has programs to reward those using E-85 fuel or purchasing E-85 vehicles. In addition, federal funding was successfully obtained by several fleets resulting in the implementation of over 20 alternate fuel infrastructure sites in the Chicago area. The U.S. Congress has been able to support several types of tax credits and deductions for those using clean, domestic fuels. The Illinois General Assembly has also been supportive of incentives. There are several E-85 retail sites at gas stations in the Chicago area and in other parts of the State. Public refueling sites for natural gas are also increasing in numbers as well as locations for propane refueling. With all of the rebates, grants, and incentives available in Illinois, coupled with the lower fuel and maintenance costs, Illinois Green Fleets makes for a very good business, as well as an environmental, decision.
Are there any requirements associated with the Illinois Green Fleets Program?
This program is totally voluntary, with no regulatory components. This is the type of cooperative program that benefits the agency as well as businesses and local governments, without the need for regulatory oversight. The Illinois EPA will survey prospective fleets annually regarding the number of AFVs in the fleet and the level of fuel usage. Based on the answers to the survey as compared to established criteria, a fleet is invited to become designated as an Illinois Green Fleet or to be upgraded in designation and be recognized as such.
How does a fleet become designated as an Illinois Green Fleet?
Illinois Green Fleet designation includes a scoring system where points are awarded for current and past AFV acquisitions. A minimal number of points must be achieved to receive Illinois Green Fleet designation. There are three tiers of Illinois Green Fleets: 1-star, 3-star, and 5-star Green Fleets. The greater the percentage of AFVs and level of clean, domestic fuel usage in your fleet, compared to the overall applicable fleet, the more points and the higher the designation rating. A fleet can move up to a higher tier as more AFVs are acquired in future years.
The criteria include:
- the percentage of new AFVs acquired during the past year as compared to the overall newly acquired vehicles;
- the percentage of your total applicable fleet that consists of AFVs;
- the percentage of your AFVs that are dedicated AFVs;
- the arrangements for refueling with regards to clean, domestic fuel infrastructure;
- actual fuel usage;
- the future commitment to clean, domestic fuels;
- the presence of any incentives for the employees.
What value does the Illinois Green Fleets Program have for a designated Green Fleet?
A designated Illinois Green Fleet will benefit from the recognition and marketing inherent in the program. In addition to the website, the Illinois Green Fleets Program has informational materials and fleet recognition events. The Illinois EPA will coordinate with several organizations in distributing the newsletter and other marketing materials to businesses and local governments throughout the State. As part of the outreach materials and website, the list of businesses and government units that are Illinois Green Fleets will be highlighted, along with feature stories of how certain fleets became Illinois Green Fleets and their experiences in using clean, domestic fuels and vehicles.
This outreach will provide excellent marketing opportunities for businesses and local governments. The Illinois Green Fleets Program will highlight the progressive environmental and domestic energy initiatives of a business or government unit in delivering goods and services with significantly less environmental impact, while emphasizing their status as "good neighbors" in their communities. In addition to the website and newsletters, an exhibit has been developed to highlight the program and the designated Illinois Green Fleets at trade shows and conferences. Presentations are also given around the State and throughout the country as opportunities arise.
Who is administering the Illinois Green Fleets Program?
The Illinois EPA administers the Illinois Green Fleets Program in coordination with several partners. In the Chicago area, the Chicago Area Clean Cities coalition has joined the Illinois EPA in establishing and promoting the program. The Illinois EPA is promoting this program throughout the State for the benefit of all progressive fleets in Illinois.
Who do I call for more information on the Illinois Green Fleets Program, the types of vehicles available, or the location of fuel sites?
Contact Darwin Burkhart of the Illinois EPA at (217) 557-1441.
Are there resources available to help me make the transition in becoming an Illinois Green Fleet?
There are several fleet, auto manufacturer, and fuel industry representatives in Illinois along with others that will work with you to answer your questions and to help you make the transition to clean, domestic fuels and AFVs. Contact the Illinois EPA for assistance or see the Contact Us section for more information.