A FEW MINUTES WITH … Lauren Stuart

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Lauren Stuart, Executive Director /Program Coordinator of the Greater Baton Rouge Clean Cities Coalition (GBRCCC), photographed March 15, 2013 on a balcony of the LaSalle Building, overlooking the Mississippi River. The group, funded through the U.S. Department of Energy, focuses on promoting alternative fuels
Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Lauren Stuart, Executive Director /Program Coordinator of the Greater Baton Rouge Clean Cities Coalition (GBRCCC), photographed March 15, 2013 on a balcony of the LaSalle Building, overlooking the Mississippi River. The group, funded through the U.S. Department of Energy, focuses on promoting alternative fuels

POSITION: Executive director/program coordinator for the Greater Baton Rouge Clean Cities Coalition.

AGE: 27.

Stuart joined the Greater Baton Rouge Clean Cities Coalition in 2009 and has since completed her master’s degree in business analytics from LSU. She leads the local nonprofit organization, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources and Clean Fuel Stakeholders. The focus of the coalition is to form public and private partnerships to support the use of alternative fuels in transportation. The portfolio of solutions includes compressed natural gas, propane, electricity, hydrogen, biofuel blends, fuel economy, hybrid vehicles and idling reduction.

What Greater Baton Rouge Clean Cities Coalition accomplishment would you highlight from the last year?

In 2012, the Greater Baton Rouge Clean Cities Coalition was awarded a Diesel Emission Reduction grant from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. We are currently managing a truck-stop electrification project in partnership with IdleAire/Convoy Solutions. The idle reduction equipment will be installed at Cash’s Truck Plaza in West Baton Rouge and is expected to be completed by June.

Give an example of a partnership that has brought an alternative fuel source to Baton Rouge.

Electric vehicle charging stations were brought to Baton Rouge through a partnership of LSU, Entergy, Coulomb Technologies and the Greater Baton Rouge Clean Cities Coalition in 2011. The EV charger installations were the first of several provided by Entergy through their Environmental Initiatives Fund. GBRCCC has a website for Baton Rouge EV drivers to find charging information at www.pluginlsu.org.

Is the cost of alternative-fuel vehicles coming down to be more in line with conventional vehicles?

Alternative-fuel vehicle technologies are advancing rapidly, lowering the cost toward that of conventionally fueled vehicles. In most cases, there is still a premium to be paid upfront; however, both federal and state tax credits are available to assist with the upfront investment. After those credits are applied, the payback period for alternative-fuel vehicles is very short due to the lower cost of the fuel itself.

What would you like to see in the Baton Rouge area in the next five years?

The Baton Rouge area has tremendous potential for leadership in hydrogen fueling industrial equipment and for liquefied natural gas use by marine vessels. In the next five years, I would like to see fueling stations with multiple fuels available in one location such as compressed natural gas, hydrogen, propane and electricity.

How has the acceptance and use of alternative fuels changed over the past 10 years?

As vehicle technologies have advanced over the last 10 years, the performance has improved and acceptance of alternative fuels has grown significantly. Other factors contributing to this trend are the natural gas reserves in the Haynesville Shale as well as the expected changes in the air quality standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Advocate staff writer Amy Wold