Florida has passed a bill promoting the use of natural gas fuel for vehicles, with the support of the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA).

Florida House Bill 579 creates incentives for companies to employ natural gas-powered vehicle fleets.

The bill passed the legislature 116-2. It now goes to Gov. Rick Scott to sign into law. Sponsoring the bill were Rep. Lake Ray (R-Jacksonville) and Sen. Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby), according to a news release by the Washington-based NSWMA.

The bill features several provisions recommended by the NSWMA Florida chapter, including a lower tax rate of 21 cents for natural gas fuel (10 cents lower than diesel fuel) beginning in 2019. It also calls for an economic impact study of the new rate by the Florida Office of Policy, Program and Governmental Accountability (OPPAGA).

In addition, the bill features a 35-percent tax refund for vehicles with power take-off functions. Also, natural gas fuel will not be taxed for five years.

Further, the NSWMA Florida chapter recommended the state provide incentives for vehicle fleets to convert to natural gas. The bill creates a rebate program administered by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, to be funded at $6 million for five years. Under the program, companies wishing to expand their fleets using natural gas vehicles can apply for rebates of up to $25,000 per vehicle, totaling up to $250,000 per year.

 “This is great progress by the Florida legislature, and the waste and recycling industry is proud to contribute to the movement toward environmental and energy sustainability,” said Chuck Dees, vice chair of the NSWMA Florida chapter. “Many NSWMA member companies have already begun moving primarily to natural gas-powered fleets.”

The chapter lobbied in support of the bill along with the Florida Natural Gas Association and the Florida Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition.