SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The federal government has approved a $1 million grant that Bay Area air quality regulators hope will simplify the process for companies interested in vehicle fleets that run on hydrogen and natural gas.

Navigating the local permit process can be a significant barrier when companies considering whether to invest in the infrastructure needed to fill the tank of an alternative fuel vehicle.

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KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

Many cities simply don’t have a process for evaluating a proposal to install a natural gas station or a hydrogen station, said Damien Breen, director of strategic incentives at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

The U.S. Department of Energy grant should help lay the groundwork for local officials unfamiliar with the challenges posed by the new technologies, Breen said.

“They’d have a quick reference guide that would help them through issues with permitting, with zoning, with inspection,” he said.

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Besides environmental issues, for example, first responders must be trained in how to handle emergencies involving both the vehicles themselves and the fueling stations, Breen said.

The air district completed a similar initiative to develop best practices around electric vehicles last year, Breen said.

“This builds on that project,” he said.

Once a consistent regulatory framework is in place, Breen said the air district would begin approaching companies about converting their fleets, emphasizing the cost savings.

“It pushes forward the idea that we can marry technology with our needs to reduce costs in business, so that we can have a better environment,” he said.

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