Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Keith R. Molenaar

Second Advisor

Amy N. Javernick-Will

Third Advisor

Matthew R. Hallowell

Fourth Advisor

Joan M. Ogden

Fifth Advisor

Ross Corotis

Abstract

Many agencies have and continue to deploy alternative fuel (AF) technologies for the on-road transportation sector with the goal of addressing multiple public objectives including reduced environmental impact, increased energy security, stimulating economic growth, and stimulating technology transition. However, there is little evidence of agreement by agencies on which objective, or combination of objectives, should be addressed or how to best prioritize goals. Furthermore, there is little agreement on how to reliably and consistently measure progress toward desired outcomes once goals are defined. These issues are contributing factors to the current lack of deployment where alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) represent only a small fraction of vehicles on the road in 2013. This research provides a means for addressing these issues through the broader concepts of evaluation capacity building (ECB). In this research, ECB refers to the level of discontinuity in the prioritization of goals (goal ambiguity) and the level of discontinuity and reliability within metrics used to gauge progress towards those goals. These concepts are demonstrated through an analysis of evaluation criteria used in fuel- and project-neutral (wide-scope) grant programs. This research shows that when agencies deploy alternative fuel technologies, environmental goals are most commonly targeted and are similarly evaluated among AF deployment grant programs at federal, state, and regional levels. In contrast, varying levels of goal ambiguity exist in the goal domains of energy security, economic growth, and technology transition. This research also demonstrates that there are significant differences in the performance of evaluation criteria currently in use. The results show that units of fuel displacement, the number of alternatively fueled vehicles distributed, and the number of alternative fuel refueling stations installed are the most reliable metrics currently incorporated within deployment programs. Conversely, other metrics commonly in use today present challenges in terms of the feasibility of acquiring the necessary data, the objectivity with which data are reported, and the clarity of definitions used for these metrics. Collectively this research provides a framework for consistently and holistically measuring evaluation capacity between alternative fuel deployment programs.

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