The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection launched “Electrifying Truck Fleets for Cleaner Air in Our Communities,” a $12.7 million Driving PA Forward initiative to improve air quality by supporting local freight truck electrification.
“Our newest Driving PA Forward initiative aims to support transformational scale electrification of local trucks to improve air quality in communities with some of the highest air pollution levels in Pennsylvania,” said DEP Acting Secretary Ramez Ziadeh. “A growing number of communities are proactively pursuing healthier air quality and greenhouse emission reductions. They’re interested in zero-emission electric options for the kinds of trucks that travel their neighborhoods on a regular basis. To help their transition to electric vehicles, DEP will provide at least 75% and, in some cases, 100% of funding to electrify local freight truck fleets.”
In addition, DEP announced $1.7 million in Driving PA Forward State Clean Diesel Grants to three projects to replace old diesel trucks with zero- or low-emission trucks.
Driving PA Forward is the set of grant and rebate programs the Wolf Administration established in 2018 with Pennsylvania’s share of the national settlement with Volkswagen Group of America for cheating on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions tests. To date, more than $70 million in Driving PA Forward funding has been awarded to reduce air pollution by replacing old diesel vehicles with cleaner transportation options and encouraging the adoption of zero-emission vehicles by investing in electric vehicle charging infrastructure statewide.
A total of $12.7 million is available to local governments, businesses, and nonprofits to replace at least five old diesel trucks with new all-electric versions. (For smaller fleets, an exception may be made to support three electric trucks.)
Funding will cover local freight trucks, such as garbage, recycling, utility, and delivery trucks, as well as charging infrastructure and installation. Grantees will have two years to scrap their old diesel vehicles and get the new electric truck fleets on the road.
DEP will provide 90% of project funding to local municipalities, or 100% if a municipality is in Act 47 financially distressed status. DEP will provide 75% of project funding to nongovernment applicants.
Projects that are located in or serve communities in Environmental Justice areas and high traffic density areas are a top priority.
“This new Driving PA Forward initiative will help respond to concerns we’ve heard directly from residents of environmental justice communities about air quality issues, by helping to get some of the most regularly seen and polluting vehicles on neighborhood streets converted to cleaner electric alternatives,” said DEP Environmental Justice Director Justin Dula.
A second priority of Electrifying Truck Fleets for Cleaner Air in Our Communities is meeting the demand for real-world information on transitioning to electric trucks in Pennsylvania.
Grant recipients will provide data on how they purchased their electric trucks and installed charging and, once the vehicles go into use, operational data on fleet performance.
“We know from our work with community and business leaders that their interest in electric trucks is matched by a need for logistical information. How long does an electric truck take to charge? How long does the charge last? What’s the cost to operate? What are the fuel savings?” said Acting Secretary Ziadeh. “With two years of on-the-ground data from grantees, we’ll develop case studies to expand the knowledge base on electric truck operation, performance, and maintenance in Pennsylvania.”