WASHINGTON, D.C. — The fiscal deal passed by Congress this week includes provisions that benefit fleets that use alternative fuels.

The so-called “fiscal cliff” bill extends tax credits for several alternative fuels, including propane autogas and compressed natural gas (CNG) — both used in many school buses — and for related infrastructure.

Gerald Rineer, transportation supervisor for Lower Merion School District in Ardmore, Pa., called the extensions “good news” for alt-fuel users. The district's fleet of 113 vehicles includes 58 buses fueled by CNG. Lower Merion also uses biodiesel in its diesel-powered vehicles.

The fiscal package reinstates a biodiesel tax incentive for 2012 (retroactively) and 2013. The $1-per-gallon biodiesel tax incentive, first implemented in 2005, had expired on Dec. 31, 2011.

The extension “is important not just for jobs but for diversifying our energy supplies, improving our energy security and reducing costly emissions," said Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs at the National Biodiesel Board.

A $0.50-per-gallon tax credit for propane, CNG and liquefied natural gas had also expired at the end of 2011, but the fiscal deal extends it through 2013 and applies it retroactively to 2012. Also extended through 2013 and applied back to 2012 is a $30,000 infrastructure tax credit for those and some other alternative fuels.

“The extension of the alternative-fuel tax credit and the refueling infrastructure tax credit will help get more propane autogas vehicles on the road and encourage fleet managers to strongly consider alternative-fuel options before making a decision,” said Richard Roldan, president and CEO of the National Propane Gas Association. “The alternative-fuel tax provisions are uniquely important, not just to the propane industry, but for every American because they help us achieve our energy security goals.”

President Obama was expected to sign the fiscal bill into law soon.