About Air and Water

Friday, August 17, 2007

SB 12: TCEQ considers prohibition against truck idling and Funds SOLAR Residential Low-income Housing Grant Pilot Project

TCEQ - Aug. 10, 2007
Items Approved for Consideration for Rule Proposal

SB 12: Idling of Motor Vehicles
The rulemaking will extend prohibitions that were set to expire on September 1, 2007, until September 1, 2009. Additionally, the rulemaking will prohibit idling within 1,000 feet of a hospital, residential areas, and if an electrification facility that provides external heat and air conditioning hook ups is within two miles of where a vehicle may be idling.
Source: TCEQ

Comment by Faith Chatham:
How much sweeter it would be if this rule which was already in effect were PUBLICIZED so that the public understands that it is illegal to leave a vehicle idling near a residence, hospital or power plant! The text of the bill sounds more like it pertains only to trucks than to automobiles.

When I looked up the bill I discovered much more than mere vehicle idling.

SB 12: Relating to programs for the enhancement of air quality, including energy efficiency standards in state purchasing and energy consumption; providing penalties
Author: Averitt Co-Authors: Ellis & Hinojosa.
Enrolled and Signed by Governor 6/8/2007 effective immediately except for Article 5 which is effective Sept. 1, 2007

The Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston-Galveston-Brazoria areas of the State of Texas do not currently meet air quality standards for ozone, and the largest contributor to the formation of ozone in these two regions are mobile resources, such as personal automobiles and diesel engines found in construction equipment. Because federal law precludes state regulation of emissions from these sources, the State of Texas has developed the Texas Emissions Reduction Program (TERP) and the Low-Income Vehicle Repair Assistance, Retrofit, and Accelerated Vehicle Retirement Program (LIRAP), aimed at reducing these emissions. TERP is primarily designed to affect diesel engines, while LIRAP is intended to lessen emissions from personal automobiles. Currently, Texas does not meet the new federal air quality standards effective in 2010.

C.S.S.B. 12 increases the scope of both the TERP and the LIRAP programs to reduce emissions from mobile sources, increases the number of individuals eligible for grants under LIRAP, and increases the amount of the grant for purchase of a new vehicle. C.S.S.B. 12 seeks to reduce statewide emissions from electrical generation units by providing for the updating of building energy codes, encouraging the purchase of efficient appliances, and providing efficiency standards for school districts, institutions of higher education, state agencies, and governmental entities in counties.

It is the committee's opinion that rulemaking authority is expressly granted to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) in SECTIONS 1.04, 1.05, 1.06, 1.12, and 1.14 of this bill and to the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) in SECTIONS 3.01 and 3.06

C.S.S.B. 12 amends the Health and Safety Code to set forth definitions for "hybrid motor vehicle" and "qualifying new motor vehicle". The bill removes the limitation on the vehicle emissions inspection and maintenance program that applies it only to gasoline-powered vehicles, making vehicles that are not gasoline-powered subject to the vehicle emissions inspection and maintenance program. The bill also subjects to the vehicle emissions inspection and maintenance program, vehicles that are newer than model year 1980 rather than those that are less than 25 years old.

The bill prohibits more than 10 percent of funds provided to counties for LIRAP to be spent on administration of the program. The bill prohibits more than 10 percent of LIRAP fees collected in a county that is subject to an early action compact and has a LIRAP program from being used to pay for administration of the program.

The bill provides that if a vehicle is to be retired under LIRAP, the replacement vehicle must be a qualifying motor vehicle. The bill authorizes TCEQ, by rule, to provide monetary or other assistance under LIRAP for the replacement of a vehicle that meets criteria set forth in the bill. The bill sets forth the maximum amounts that may be provided toward the purchase of a qualified replacement vehicle based on the vehicle type and model year. The bill authorizes this money to be used as a down payment for purchase of a replacement vehicle. The bill specifies that a vehicle owner's income cannot exceed 300 percent of the federal poverty level to be eligible for vehicle replacement under LIRAP. The bill requires a participating county to provide an electronic means for distributing LIRAP repair and replacement funds and requires these funds to be transferred to a participating dealer within five business days. The bill sets forth provisions relating to documentation that will be issued to a person eligible to purchase a replacement vehicle. The bill sets forth provisions relating to the dismantling and scrapping of a retired vehicle. The bill provides that an automobile dealer that is participating in vehicle emissions programs must be located in this state. The bill specifies that participation in these programs is voluntary.

The bill authorizes the appropriation of money for LIRAP local initiative projects only for programs administered in accordance with the Uniform Grants and Contract Management Act. The bill authorizes a participating county to agree to contract with an appropriate entity to implement a vehicle emissions inspection and maintenance program, LIRAP, or LIRAP local initiative project. The bill requires LIRAP local initiative projects to be implemented in consultation with TCEQ and sets forth examples of these local projects. The bill sets forth limits on how these funds may be expended.

The bill adds an amount made available to the consumer under LIRAP for vehicle replacement to the definition of "total consideration" in the Tax Code.

The bill adds violations of provisions of the Texas Clean Air Act relating to vehicle emissions to civil penalties provisions of the Water Code.

The bill repeals Subsection (e), Section 382.0622; Subsections (q) and (r), Section 382.202; and Section 382.217 of the Health and Safety Code.

The bill requires TCEQ to review its current cutpoint levels for nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and determine whether a lower cutpoint standard would best serve the interest of public health and welfare and make necessary adjustment to LIRAP. The bill requires TCEQ to seek to work in partnership with automobile manufacturers and dealers in the state and the steel industry and automobile dismantlers to implement provisions of this bill.

The bill amends the Health & Safety Code to delay the expiration of the TERP program from 2010 to 2013. The bill requires TCEQ in administering TERP to hire staff and consultants needed to implement the TERP program in a timely manner. The bill requires TCEQ to make proposed revisions to TERP grant guidelines available to the public 30 days, rather than 45 days, before the guidelines are adopted. The bill changes the percentage of time or vehicle miles that must be traveled within nonattainment or affected counties from 75 percent to 50 percent. The bill also authorizes TCEQ to allow travel on roads designated by TCEQ that are outside nonattainment or affected counties to count towards this percentage. The bill allows TCEQ to consider a project for a marine vessel that operates within nine miles of a nonattainment area or affected county in addition to existing requirements. The bill increases the maximum cost effectiveness amount for TERP grants from $13,000 per ton of NOx emissions reduced to $15,000 per ton. The bill adds marine vessels to the types of engines eligible for grants for infrastructure projects for auxiliary power units. The bill sets forth provisions related to providing funding for and promoting idle reduction technologies. The bill requires TCEQ to encourage the use of external power units at ports and border crossings. The bill requires TCEQ to set aside funds in the TERP rebate grants program for projects with non-road engines used in construction and ensure that these projects are funded at a level commensurate with their percentage contribution to the nitrogen oxides emissions from mobiles sources. The bill requires TCEQ to implement an internet based application process for these grants and notify potential applicants of changes to the program by email and on the TCEQ website. The bill moves the administration of the TERP fund from the comptroller to TCEQ. Changes to the allocation of TERP funds that were set to take effect in 2008 are repealed and previous provisions are reenacted.

The bill makes an institution of higher education based in Houston eligible to administer the New Technology Research and Development Program (NTRD) and authorizes TCEQ to contract with more than one organization to administer the program. The bill sets forth conditions that a non-profit organization under contract with TCEQ to administer the NTRD program is required to meet and sets forth provisions relating to TCEQ oversight of the NTRD program. The bill sets forth provisions relating to the establishment of a testing facility to evaluate new technology that may result in NOx emissions reductions. The bill removes air quality studies from the list of eligible NTRD projects. The bill provides that the selection of NTRD grant recipients by a nonprofit organization is subject to the TCEQ's review. The bill prohibits a nonprofit organization from making a grant of TERP funds if TCEQ or executive director of TCEQ does not consent to the grant.

The bill amends the Tax Code to extend the expiration for the TERP fees and surcharges from 2010 to 2013.

Changes to the amount of the fee charged on a certificate of title that were set to take effect in 2008 are repealed from the Transportation Code. The bill provides that the portion of these title fees that are sent to the comptroller and then deposited to the credit of the Texas Mobility fund beginning in 2008 will be deposited directly to the credit of the TERP fund beginning in 2010. The bill provides that the TERP surcharge on certain vehicle registrations expires in 2013 rather than 2010. The bill amends the Health & Safety Code to authorize SECO to adopt new editions of international energy conservation code and sets forth a process for doing so. The bill adds institutions of higher education and state agencies to provisions requiring political subdivisions to implement certain energy efficiency programs. The bill provides for reporting on energy efficiency programs to SECO that would indicate no change from previous reports.

The bill amends the Education Code to require school districts to establish a goal to reduce annual electric consumption by five percent each year for six years. The bill amends the Government Code to require the Texas Building and Procurement Commissions (TBPC) to develop a list of equipment and appliances that meet energy efficiency standards and assist state agencies in selecting products from that list. The bill requires TBPC or another state agency to purchase equipment and appliances that meet the federal Energy Star standards.

From the text of the bill:
SECTION 4.01. Subsections (b), (c), and (d), Section 382.0191, Health and Safety Code, are amended to read as follows:
(b) The commission may not prohibit or limit the idling of a motor vehicle when idling is necessary to power a heater or air conditioner while a driver is using the vehicle's sleeper berth for a government-mandated rest period. Idling is not necessary to power a heater or air conditioner if the vehicle is within two miles of a facility offering external heating and air conditioning connections at a time when those connections are available.
(c) No driver using the vehicle's sleeper berth may idle the vehicle in a residential area as defined by Section 244.001, Local Government Code, or in a school zone or within 1,000 feet of a hospital or a public school during its hours of operation. An offense under this subsection shall be punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.
(d) This section expires September 1, 2009 [2007].

The bill also enables a solar energy demonstration program. From the text of the bill:
SECTION 7.01. Subchapter Z, Chapter 39, Utilities Code, is amended by adding Section 39.9051 to read as follows:
Sec. 39.9051. ENERGY EFFICIENCY DEMONSTRATION PROJECTS FOR SOLAR ELECTRIC SYSTEM; GRANT PROGRAM. (a) The commission by rule shall establish grant programs for:
(1) a demonstration project for installation of solar electric systems for new residential subdivisions;
(2) a demonstration project for installation of solar electric systems for new or established affordable housing for persons with low incomes; and
(3) a demonstration project for installation of solar electric systems for not more than three small businesses.
(b) To qualify for a grant under this section, the solar electric system must be a device that:
(1) generates electricity using solar resources;
(2) has a generating capacity of not more than 1,000 kilowatts; and
(3) is installed with a manufacturer's warranty against breakdown or undue degradation for a period of at least five years.
(c) A demonstration project grant program established under this section must provide for full or partial payment of the cost of equipment and installation for the solar electric systems. The commission shall establish for each grant program a competitive bidding process for grant applicants. The commission shall
consider the value of funding demonstration projects in different parts of this state, after considering the demographic and geographic diversity of this state.
(d) To qualify for a grant under Subsection (a)(1), the applicant:
(1) must be a person whose primary business activity is the building of residential housing developments; and
(2) must have installed or must be contractually obligated to install qualifying solar electric systems in each residence constructed in a residential subdivision.
(e) To qualify for a grant under Subsection (a)(2), the applicant must have installed or be contractually obligated to install a qualifying solar electric system for residential real property:
(1) appraised in accordance with Section 23.21, Tax Code, as affordable housing property; or
(2) subject to a contractual obligation that the property will be appraised in accordance with Section 23.21, Tax Code, as affordable housing property within a reasonable time after the grant is received.
(f) To qualify for a grant under Subsection (a)(3), the applicant must be a small business or owner of a small business that meets qualifications adopted by the commission after consideration of federal Small Business Administration standards for qualification for loans from that administration.
(g) The commission shall issue a report to the governor, lieutenant governor, and speaker of the house of representatives not later than December 1 of each even-numbered year summarizing the status of the grant programs established under Subsection (a).
The report must include the amount of money granted to each demonstration project and an evaluation of whether the projects demonstrate the economic and ecologic viability of solar electric system installations.
(h) This section expires December 31, 2010.
SECTION 7.02. (a) The Public Utility Commission of Texas may not spend money to implement a demonstration project grant program established under Section 39.9051, Utilities Code, as added by this article, except for money described by Subsection (b) of this section that is appropriated to the commission.
(b) The Public Utility Commission of Texas may solicit and accept gifts, grants, and other donations from any source to carry out the demonstration grant program established under Section 39.9051, Utilities Code, as added by this article.
(c) This section expires December 31, 2010

Read Text of Enrolled Bill
Read History of Bill
Read Fiscal Notes

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