Industry events can be educational in many ways and the annual Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference (EUFMC), held every June in Williamsburg, VA, is no exception. This year, a record setting 125 fleet representatives from 70 investor-owned electric utilities, electric cooperatives and electrical contractors in the U.S and Canada attended EUFMC.
Many return every year for sessions on topics related to fleet management, presentations of the latest fleet products and technologies, roundtable discussions on common challenges and solutions, and networking opportunities with industry peers and the manufacturer/vendor community.
An annual staple at EUFMC, and one of the highest rated sessions every year by attendees for its educational value, is the Regulatory and Legislative Update presented by Pat O’Connor, who serves as the Legislative Counsel for the NAFA Fleet Management Association.
Here’s a rundown of some of the many topics O’Connor summarized:
Under federal fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, engine and chassis manufacturers are regulated, not final bodybuilders. Heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans under the standards are treated as a unique subset of heavy-duty vehicles, although these vehicles are largely derivatives of light-duty vehicles and are tested as complete vehicles similar to light-duty units.
Phase 2 greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks will include vocational vehicles, and likely will go beyond off-the-shelf technology.
“Phase 2 issues to watch include that fleets will be able to continue to spec the equipment they need to perform their work,” O’Connor noted, “and that frequent “look backs” on the early stages of implementation are conducted before the next stages are commenced. Performance-based targets versus technology-forcing mandates avoid regulations that impede incentives, avoid increased cost and payback periods, recognize diverse duty cycles and consider incentives.”
The Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) sets targets and timetables for biofuels to be added into the nation’s transportation fuel supply. EPA has released its proposed volume limits for 2014, 2015 and 2016 and intends to take final action on the proposal by November 30, 2015. Ethanol is scheduled to reach its cap of 15 billion gallons by 2015, while the other categories continue to rise until the total RFS reaches 36 billion gallons by 2022.
A NHTSA rulemaking covering Rear Impact Guards and other safety strategies for single unit trucks is in the pre-rule stage. Other proposed rules cover heavy vehicle speed limiters, upgrades to Rear Impact Guard Requirements for Trailers and Semitrailers, and sound emissions for hybrid and electric vehicles.
Tax credits for biodiesel, natural gas and propane expired on December 31, 2014 and Congress is moving away from tax incentives for fuels and vehicles.
“Engagement by fleet managers helps inform public policy, influence public policy and serves as a resource to senior management,” O’Connor said. “A sustainable fleet manages and reduces net environmental impacts from fleet operations at or ahead of the pace required for environmental need.”
Planning is underway for the 63rd annual EUFMC, scheduled for June 5-8, 2016. For information, visit www.eufmc.com.