Texas Laws and Incentives

Listed below are the summaries of all current Texas laws, incentives, regulations, funding opportunities, and other initiatives related to alternative fuels and vehicles, advanced technologies, or air quality. You can go directly to summaries of:

State Incentives

Light-Duty Alternative Fuel Vehicle Rebates

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) administers the Light-Duty Motor Vehicle Purchase or Lease Incentive Program for the purchase or lease of a new light-duty vehicle powered by compressed natural gas (CNG), propane, hydrogen, or electricity. CNG and propane vehicles are eligible for a rebate of $5,000 for the first 1,000 applicants. Electric drive vehicles powered by a battery or hydrogen fuel cell are eligible for a rebate of $2,500, for the first 2,000 applicants. One rebate will be available per eligible vehicle.

For more information, including eligibility requirements and application periods, see the TCEQ Texas Emissions Reduction Plan website.

(Reference Senate Bill 1731, 2017, Texas Statutes, Health and Safety Code 386, and Texas Administrative Code 114.610-114.613)

Clean Vehicle and Infrastructure Grants

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) administers the Emissions Reduction Incentive Grants (ERIG) Program and Rebate Grants Program as part of the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP). The ERIG Program provides grants for various types of clean air projects to improve air quality in the state's nonattainment areas and other affected counties. Eligible projects include those that involve replacement, retrofit, repower, or lease or purchase of new heavy-duty vehicles; alternative fuel dispensing infrastructure; idle reduction and electrification infrastructure; and alternative fuel use. The Rebate Grants Program provides grants to upgrade or replace diesel heavy-duty vehicles and non-road equipment.

Qualifying projects must reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides or other pollutants by at least 25% as compared to baseline levels and must meet operational and fuel usage requirements. For more information, including funding availability, see the TCEQ TERP website. (Reference Texas Statutes, Health and Safety Code 386, and Texas Administrative Code 114.620-114.629)

Clean Fleet Grants

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) administers the Texas Clean Fleet Program (TCFP) as part of the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP). TCFP encourages owners of fleets containing diesel vehicles to permanently remove the vehicles from the road and replace them with alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) or hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs). Grants are available to fleets to offset the incremental cost of such replacement projects. An entity that operates a fleet of at least 75 vehicles and commits to placing 10 or more qualifying vehicles in service for use in the Clean Transportation Zone may be eligible. Qualifying AFV or HEV replacements must reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides or other pollutants by at least 25% as compared to baseline levels and must replace vehicles that meet operational and fuel usage requirements. Neighborhood electric vehicles do not qualify. For more information, including current application periods, see the TCEQ TERP website. (Reference Senate Bill 1731, 2017, Texas Statutes, Health and Safety Code 386 and 392, and Texas Administrative Code 114.650-114.658)

Clean School Bus Program

Any school district or charter school may receive a grant through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to pay for the incremental costs to replace school buses or install diesel oxidation catalysts, diesel particulate filters, emission-reducing add-on equipment, and other emissions reduction technologies in qualified school buses. Furthermore, funds may also be used to purchase qualifying fuels, including any liquid or gaseous fuel or additive registered or verified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (other than standard gasoline or diesel) that provides particulate matter emission reductions. Additional rules and conditions apply. For more information, see the TCEQ Texas Emissions Reduction Plan website. (Reference Senate Bill 1731, 2017, Texas Statutes, Health and Safety Code 390, and Texas Administrative Code 114.640-114.648)

Clean Vehicle Replacement Vouchers

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality administers the AirCheckTexas Drive a Clean Machine program, which provides vehicle replacement assistance for qualified individuals owning vehicles registered in participating counties. Vouchers in the amount of $3,500 are available toward the purchase of a hybrid electric, battery electric, or natural gas vehicle that is up to three model years old. For more information about participating counties, qualified vehicles, program requirements, and how to apply in specific areas, see the AirCheckTexas Drive a Clean Machine website. (Reference Texas Statutes, Health and Safety Code 382.209-220)

Diesel Fuel Blend Tax Exemption

The biodiesel or ethanol portion of blended fuel containing taxable diesel is exempt from the diesel fuel tax. The biodiesel or ethanol fuel blend must be clearly identified on the retail pump, storage tank, and sales invoice in order to be eligible for the exemption. (Reference Texas Statutes, Tax Code 162.204)

Idle Reduction Weight Exemption

Any motor vehicle equipped with qualifying idle reduction technology may exceed the state's gross vehicle weight limits by up to 400 pounds to compensate for the additional weight of the idle reduction technology. To be eligible for the weight exemption, the vehicle operator must be able to provide proof that the idle reduction technology is fully functional. (Reference Texas Statutes, Transportation Code 622.955)

Natural Gas Vehicle (NGV) Weight Exemption

NGVs may exceed the maximum gross vehicle weight limit and the axle weight limit by an amount equal to the difference of the weight of the natural gas tank and fueling system and the weight of a comparable diesel tank and fueling system. The NGV must not exceed a maximum gross vehicle weight of 82,000 pounds. (Reference Senate Bill 1102, 2017, and Texas Statutes, Transportation Code 621.101)

Utility/Private Incentives

Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Charging Rate Incentive - Austin Energy

Austin Energy offers a pilot time-of-use charging rate to residential customers with PEVs and electric vehicle supply equipment. For more information, see the Austin Energy Plug-In Rebate website.

Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) Incentive - Austin Energy

Plug-in electric vehicle owners in the Austin Energy service area may be eligible for a rebate of 50% of the cost to purchase and install a qualified Level 2 EVSE, up to $1,500. For additional information, see the Austin Energy Plug-In Rebate website.

Natural Gas Vehicle (NGV) and Fueling Infrastructure Rebates - Texas Gas Service

The Texas Gas Service Conservation Program offers a rebate of up to $2,000 for the purchase of a qualified NGV or $3,000 for the conversion of a gasoline powered vehicle to operate on natural gas. The rebate is available for up to five vehicles per customer, and only centers certified by the Railroad Commission of Texas may perform conversions. A rebate of $1,000 is also available for the purchase of a natural gas forklift. Additionally, qualified residential and commercial NGV fueling infrastructure may be eligible for a rebate of up to $2,000. These incentives are available to commercial and residential customers within the city limits of Austin, Bee Cave, Lakeway, Sunset Valley, Rollingwood, West Lake Hills, Cedar Park, and Kyle with specific gas rate codes. As of September 1, the rebate is also available for customers in the Rio Grande Valley service territory. For more information, see the Texas Gas Service Rebate Program website.

Point of Contact
Wayne Snead
CNG Specialist, Business Development
Texas Gas Service
Phone: (512) 370-8239
Fax: (512) 370-8247
wsnead@txgas.com

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (Propane) Vehicle and Equipment Incentive - Propane Council of Texas

Propane vehicle incentives are available to private, non-profit, local government, state, and school white fleets. New dedicated propane vehicles and aftermarket conversions are eligible for an incentive equal to the incremental cost, up to $7,500. Each fleet is limited to $20,000 in total incentive awards.

Additionally, a $1,000 incentive is available for each new or converted propane commercial mower operated by public and private entities (excluding state agencies). Mower applicants are limited to seven incentive awards.

All conversion systems for vehicles and mowers must be certified through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the California Air Resources Board. All vehicles and mowers must be registered and operated in Texas. Additional terms and conditions apply. For more information, see the Propane Council of Texas website.

Point of Contact
Jacqueline Mason
Education & Marketing Director
Propane Council of Texas
Phone: (800) 325-7427
jmason@txpropane.com
http://www.propanecounciloftexas.org/incentives

Laws and Regulations

Support for Automated Vehicle (AV) Testing and Operation

Effective September 1, 2017, Texas state agencies must support the testing and operation of AVs. AV usage is authorized if the driving system complies with state and federal laws and is equipped with a recording device. AVs are motor vehicles equipped with technology that allows vehicle automation to perform one or more driving functions without the direct control of the driver. In the event of an accident, the vehicle operator must notify local authorities or the Texas Department of Public Safety. (Reference Senate Bill 2205, 2017)

Authorization of Alternative Fuel Vehicle Rebates

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) will develop a state rebate incentive for the purchase or lease of new light-duty vehicles powered by natural gas, propane, hydrogen, or electricity. Natural gas and propane vehicles are eligible for a rebate of $5,000 if their dedicated or bi-fuel system that was installed prior to final sale or installed within the first 500 miles of operation. The rebate will be available for the first 1,000 applicants for each state fiscal biennium.

Electric drive vehicles powered by a battery or hydrogen fuel cell will be eligible for a rebate of $2,500. The rebate will be available for the first 2,000 applications for each state fiscal biennium.

One rebate will be available per eligible vehicle. Manufacturers of vehicles or fueling systems must provide TCEQ with a list of new eligible vehicles that the manufacturer intends to sell in the state that meet rebate requirements. TCEQ will publish an updated list of vehicle models eligible for the incentives by August 1, annually.

(Reference Senate Bill 1731, 2017)

Authorization of Governmental Alternative Fuel Fleet Grant Program

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) will establish and administer a grant program for governmental alternative fuel fleets to provide grants for the purchase or lease of a new vehicle and the purchase, lease, or installation of alternative fueling equipment. Eligible alternative fuels include natural gas, propane, hydrogen, and electricity. State agencies and political subdivisions are eligible to apply for a grant under the program if the entity operates a fleet of more than 15 vehicles. Mass transit and school transportation providers will also be eligible for grants.

TCEQ will establish standardized vehicle grant amounts based on the incremental costs associated with the purchase or lease of different categories of motor vehicle, including the fuel type, vehicle class, and other categories TCEQ considers appropriate. TCEQ will also establish standardized fueling equipment grant amounts.

(Reference Senate Bill 1731, 2017)

Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Registration Tracking Program

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) collects data on the number of AFVs registered in the state. TxDOT must submit an annual report to the Texas Legislature detailing the results of each data collection year. For the purpose of this program, AFVs include plug-in electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, and natural gas vehicles. (Reference Texas Statutes, Transportation Code, 502-004)

Alternative Fuel Use and Vehicle Acquisition Requirements

State agency fleets with more than 15 vehicles, excluding emergency and law enforcement vehicles, may not purchase or lease a motor vehicle unless the vehicle uses compressed or liquefied natural gas, propane, ethanol or fuel blends of at least 85% ethanol (E85), methanol or fuel blends of at least 85% methanol (M85), biodiesel or fuel blends of at least 20% biodiesel (B20), or electricity (including plug-in hybrid electric vehicles). Waivers may be granted for fleets under the following circumstances: the fleet will operate primarily in areas where neither the state agency or a supplier can reasonably be expected to establish adequate fueling infrastructure for these fuels; or the agency is unable to obtain equipment or fueling facilities necessary to operate alternative fuel vehicles at a cost that is no greater than the net costs of using conventional fuels.

Covered state agency fleets must consist of at least 50% of vehicles that are able to operate on alternative fuels and use these fuels at least 80% of the time the vehicles are driven. Covered state agencies may meet these requirements through the purchase of new vehicles or the conversion of existing vehicles. State agencies that purchase passenger vehicles or other ground transportation vehicles for general use must ensure that at least 25% of the vehicles purchased during any state fiscal biennium, other than exempted vehicles, meet or exceed federal Tier II, Bin 3 emissions standards.

(Reference Texas Statutes, Government Code 2158.004 through 2158.009)

Renewable Fuel Promotion

The Texas Bioenergy Policy Council and the Texas Bioenergy Research Committee were established to promote the goal of making biofuels a significant part of the energy industry in Texas by January 1, 2019. The Policy Council is tasked with the following:

  • Provide a vision for unifying the state's agricultural, energy, and research strengths in a successful launch of a cellulosic biofuel and bioenergy industry;
  • Foster development of cellulosic and bio-based fuels;
  • Pursue the creation of a next-generation biofuels energy research program at a university in the state;
  • Pursue federal and other funding to position the state as a bioenergy leader;
  • Study the feasibility and economic development effect of a blending requirement for biodiesel or cellulosic fuels;
  • Pursue the development and use of thermochemical process technologies to produce alternative chemical feedstocks; and
  • Study the feasibility and economic development of the requirements for renewable natural gas.
(Reference Texas Statutes, Agriculture Code 50D)

Fuel Dispenser Labeling Requirement

All equipment used to dispense motor fuel containing at least 1% ethanol or methanol must be clearly labeled to inform customers that the fuel contains ethanol or methanol. (Reference Texas Statutes, Agriculture Code 17.051)

Natural Gas Vehicle (NGV) Inspection Requirements

To pass the state vehicle inspection, an NGV owner must be able to provide proof that the fuel tank on the vehicle has met inspection requirements and falls within the manufacturer's recommended service life, as required by Title 49 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, section 571.304. Fleet operators must also prove that a certified technician inspected the vehicle's fuel tank. (Reference Texas Statutes, Transportation Code 548.104)

Provision for Establishment of Hydrogen Program

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) may seek funding from public and private sources to acquire and operate hydrogen vehicles and establish and operate publicly-accessible hydrogen fueling stations. TxDOT must ensure that data on emissions from the vehicles, fueling stations, and related hydrogen production are monitored and compared with data on emissions from control vehicles with internal combustion engines that operate on fuels other than hydrogen. TxDOT must report the results of this monitoring, analysis, and comparison to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. (Reference Texas Statutes, Transportation Code 201.618)

Idle Reduction Requirement

A vehicle may not idle for more than five minutes from April through October in cities and counties where the local government has signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Exemptions apply for the following: vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 14,000 pounds (lbs.) or less; emergency or law enforcement vehicles; airport ground support vehicles; rented/leased vehicles; to perform needed work, including roadway construction, maintenance and diagnostics; to defrost a windshield; traffic conditions; and hours of service compliance activities. Vehicles may idle for up to 30 minutes for bus passenger comfort or transit operations. Fines vary by jurisdiction.

TCEQ may not prohibit or limit the idling of any vehicle with a GVWR greater than 8,500 lbs. provided that the vehicle is equipped with a 2008 or subsequent model year heavy-duty diesel or natural gas engine that is certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or another state agency to emit no more than 30 grams of nitrogen oxides per hour when idling.

(Reference Texas Statutes, Health and Safety Code 382.0191; and Texas Administrative Code 30.114.510 through 30.114.517)

Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) Access to Roadways

NEVs are defined as vehicles that can attain a maximum speed of 35 miles per hour (mph) and that must comply with the safety standards in Title 49 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, section 571.500. NEVs may only be used on roadways that have a posted speed limit of 45 mph or less except to cross at an intersection. A county, municipality, or the Texas Department of Transportation may prohibit the operation of NEVs on a street or highway if the governing body determines that the prohibition is necessary in the interest of safety. (Reference Texas Statutes, Transportation Code 551.301 through 551.304)

Natural Gas Tax

Compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) dispensed into a motor vehicle is taxed at a rate of $0.15 per gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE) or diesel gallon equivalent (DGE), depending on how the dispenser lists the price. A GGE is defined as 5.66 pounds (lbs.) of CNG or 5.37 lbs. of LNG. A DGE is defined as 6.38 lbs. of CNG or 6.06 lbs. of LNG. Exemptions may apply. (Reference Texas Statutes, Tax Code 162.001, and 162.351 through 162.356)

Propane and Natural Gas Safety

The Railroad Commission of Texas regulates the safety of the natural gas and propane industries. (Reference Texas Statutes, Natural Resources Code 113.011 and 116.011)