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Air Quality: Clean Fuels Program Makes Dollars and Sense

By Mat Carlile

You’ve probably noticed the change. Hybrids seem to be everywhere. Electric charging stations have suddenly appeared near the entrance to your grocery store. A CNG fueling station opened down the street from your office. Your neighbor plugs his car into an outlet in his carport.

All these changes are signs that, more and more, Utah residents are choosing to drive alternative fuel vehicles to lower their emissions and lower their costs. But did you know that you can get a tax credit when you purchase an alternative fuel vehicle? That’s just one of the incentives the state is offering to make it easier and more convenient to drive a plug-in hybrid, electric, or CNG car.

Utah is committed to making alternative fuel vehicles an easy and attractive choice for residents. Governor Gary Herbert designated November as Alternative Fuel Vehicle Awareness Month to encourage residents to consider driving an alt-fuel vehicle. The state, which current has 287 alternative fueling stations available for the public, is leading the charge to create a CNG transportation corridor along I-15 and is expanding the electric, liquefied natural gas, and propane infrastructure across Utah. In addition, the state legislature passed a bill in 2014 requiring the Division of Fleet Operations to have 50 percent or more of state vehicles that are used to transport passengers be alternative fuel or high efficiency vehicles.

Businesses are getting involved as well. Rocky Mountain Power just announced an initiative to bring 20,000 more electric cars to Utah over the next ten years. Questar Gas has opened 26 CNG stations throughout Utah along with a new fueling station in West Valley City equipped with high-speed, high-volume fueling for medium- and heavy-duty CNG trucks.

The Division of Air Quality does its part by administering the Clean Fuels Program, which offers a variety of funding mechanisms — including grants, loans, and tax credits for individuals, businesses, and local governments — to help reduce vehicle emissions. Two of these programs offer tax credits specifically for alternative fuel vehicles:

Clean Fuel Vehicle Tax Credit

The state offers a tax credit for motor vehicles that meet certain air quality and fuel economy standards. Taxpayers may claim a non-refundable credit on their individual income tax, corporate franchise tax, or fiduciary tax returns for the purchase or conversion of vehicles that use cleaner burning fuels.

Natural Gas Heavy Duty Vehicle Tax Credit

The state provides a tax credit for the qualified purchase of a natural gas heavy-duty vehicle (category 7 or 8 vehicle) that has never been titled or registered.

Although alternative fuel vehicles may in some cases cost more than a gasoline-powered vehicle, they are a good bargain in the long run. The combination of tax credits, greater fuel efficiency, and lower fuel costs make these cars an attractive option. Most importantly, your purchase of an alternative fuel vehicle improves our air quality. And that’s a benefit that helps us all breathe a little easier.

Interested in purchasing a clean vehicle but not sure where to begin? Consider purchasing a SmartWay vehicle. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates each new car, truck, and SUV for greenhouse gas and smog-forming emissions on a scale from 1 to 10. For more information about clean fuel vehicle tax credits or DEQ’s Clean Fuels Program, visit our webpage.


Mat CarlileI have worked with the Utah Division of Air Quality for 10 years. I have a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Brigham Young University. My wife Carrie and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in June. We have four children. I love reading, investigating history, traveling, and playing basketball, volleyball, football, and ultimate Frisbee.