How to act fast to tap millions in California green-truck grants

How to act fast to tap millions in California green-truck grants

The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) of California has announced two separate vehicle replacement grant programs totaling more than $37 million. In addition to $16 million in state and federal funds to be spent on qualifying alternative fuel trucks, there is another $21.4 million available under the Proposition 1B Goods Movement Program, including $17.45 million for non-drayage trucks

The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) of California has announced two separate vehicle replacement grant programs totaling more than $37 million. In addition to $16 million in state and federal funds to be spent on qualifying alternative fuel trucks, there is another $21.4 million available under the Proposition 1B Goods Movement Program, including $17.45 million for non-drayage trucks.

The per-vehicle maximum for the first program is $100, 000. The per-vehicle maximum under the Proposition 1B program is $50,000, but it covers the purchase of 2007 or newer replacement diesel trucks as well as alternative fuel vehicles.

The only hitch, if you can call it that, is that grant applications are due by March 12, 2010, just more than two weeks away. However, FleetOwner has learned that grant proposal experts at Clean Energy Fuels are prepared to help fleets interested in obtaining natural gas-powered vehicles with the grant application process today.

“I can’t imagine another program coming out like this,” said Shaunt Hartounian, business development manager, ports & regional trucking for Clean Energy Fuels of the $16 million funding opportunity. “Scrap an old truck and purchase a new natural gas-powered truck to be deployed this year in California [for a minimum of five years] and you are eligible for a grant of up to $100,000.

“The Proposition 1B funds can be used for diesel or alternative-fuel vehicles, but there are more requirements and restrictions associated with Proposition 1B programs,” he noted, “and the funding amount per truck is less.” According to Hartounian, Clean Energy is prepared to handle the application work for companies interested in natural gas-powered trucks. All fleets are asked to do is complete the application form that Clean Energy Fuels provides.

In a document from Clean Energy Fuels about the new $16-million funding opportunity, the organization offers guidelines and tips for applicants: “Funding is available for drayage and non-drayage trucks (regional trucks). There is no stipulation in the Request for Proposal (RFP) about the percentage of travel required in the AQMD. That said the trucks that travel the highest percentage in the South Coast Air Basin [including all of Orange County and the urban portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties of California] take funding priority.”

“The required period of operation is five years,” Hartounian explains. “This is a replacement program – a truck has to be scrapped. The only requirement regarding a replacement truck is that the applicant can prove/document registration of the replacement truck in California – the replacement truck does not have to be titled or operated by the applicant.

“Regardless of the number of trucks included in your application, you only have to fill out one application [with Clean Energy Fuels],” he continued. “Applications are not completed on a truck-by-truck basis. The application can be for 100 trucks – as long as there are 100 trucks to be replaced.”

There are, of course, requirements for grant eligibility, but the list is shorter than usual, according to Clean Energy Fuels. The basics for the $16 million opportunity come down to these:

  • A model year 2004 or older truck must be scrapped for every new alternative energy truck funded. (However, fleets can purchase used trucks to meet the program’s scrap requirement with proof of registration in the State of California.)
  • The truck to be scrapped must have been operating in the State of California.
  • Fleets must make a five-year contract commitment to operate the new vehicles in California.

There are also things applicants can do to enhance their chances for success, noted Hartounian:

  • Request less than $100,000. Your cost-effectiveness will be rated higher.
  • Scrap older trucks. Model year 2000 trucks score higher than 2004 trucks.
  • Operate in the South Coast Air Basin: Preference will be given to trucks that operate in that environmental jurisdiction.
  • Commit to a longer than five-year period of operation in California.

In March 2009, the SCAQMD Board approved the awards for non-drayage truck replacement and retrofit projects, but the program was later put on hold because the funds were unavailable due to the State’s inability to sell bonds.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) recently notified SCAQMD that these funds are now available and, along with other unspent funding for the Ports’ drayage truck program, must be committed through executed contracts by June 30, 2010. Hence the big hurry.

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