Washington: Seattle Rises Above with Alternative Fuels

Project Overview
Positive Impact: From the airport’s baggage carriers to the taxis, Seattle’s efforts to reduce petroleum in transportation will improve their local energy and environmental security, as well as help tourists realize the benefits of alternative fuels.
Location: Seattle, Washington
Partners: Western Washington Clean Cities, World CNG, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency
EERE Investment: $15 million
Clean Energy Sector: Sustainable transportationPDF

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (host for the Western Washington Clean Cities coalition) is helping Sec-Tac airport and the surrounding area "fly above the rest" in sustainable transportation. Through a $15 million Recovery Act project and with $22.3 million in cost share from partners, this project has brought more than 200 charging and alternative fuel stations and more than 600 alternative fuel vehicles to the greater Seattle area. The project has helped install charging stations for plug-in electric vehicles, trained drivers to use their vehicles more efficiently, and provided access to alternative fuels for fleets.  The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency estimates that it will reduce fuel consumption by the equivalent of more than 3 million U.S. gallons of gasoline per year.

In particular, the project helped small taxi fleets adopt alternative fuel vehicles required by Sea-Tac International Airport that would not be able to afford them otherwise. The project deployed 252 compressed natural gas and propane taxis that are helping companies save money on fuel due to the cost differential between compresses natural gas (CNG) and gasoline. The vehicles are displacing more than 50,000 gallons of petroleum per month. In addition to the cost savings, entrepreneurs have leveraged these investments to grow their businesses.  For example, one entrepreneur who was a veteran started a taxi company with a 100% alternative fuel fleet—CNG For Hire. In addition, the project worked with World CNG, a local business, to coordinate financing, driver training, conversion, and delivery of the upgraded vehicles. As a result of this influx of business, World CNG grew from a three-person company to a 19-person company.

Other parts of the project improved the sustainability of the airport itself. Through this funding, airlines have switched more than 200 pieces of bag-hauling and other equipment over to electricity that previously ran on diesel.  The airport is also running a short video on all of its television screens describing its efforts to "go green," educating the 30 million visitors that pass through Sea-Tac annually on the benefits of alternative fuels.

The Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) develops and deploys efficient and environmentally friendly highway transportation technologies that will enable America to use less petroleum. These technologies will provide Americans with greater freedom of mobility and energy security, while lowering costs and reducing impacts on the environment.

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