Agency of Natural Resources to Launch New Electric School and Transit Bus Pilot Program
Vermont Submits Plan to VW Trustee to Enable Flow of Funds to Vermont
In a strategic move to improve air quality and decrease transportation sector emissions, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR), in partnership with an interagency working group, today released the plan for how the state will use the funds received from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust. The plan includes a strong focus on advancing electric vehicle technologies in Vermont and will help Vermonters transition to low and zero-emission vehicles. One of the most innovative elements of the plan is an electric school and transit bus pilot program.
“We asked Vermonters to send us their most innovative ideas, comments and strategies describing the best way to apply the VW Mitigation Funds,” said Emily Boedecker, Commissioner of ANR’s Department of Environmental Conservation. “We received a really strong and encouraging response. Many of the comments called for replacing old school and transit buses with new electric models. Because of the enthusiastic public support for this idea, we’ve chosen to lead out of the gate with establishing an electric school and transit bus pilot program to test these new technologies in Vermont.”
Vermont is slated to receive $18.7 million from the VW mitigation fund over the course of the next ten years. The fund was created in the wake of the VW scandal after the company cheated motor vehicle emission standards by allowing diesel vehicles that they manufacture to emit excess nitrogen oxides (NOx) into the air. In December 2017, ANR invited the public to weigh in on the state’s plan for using the settlement funds.
Heavy-duty electric vehicle technologies are still relatively new and little information exists as to how these types of buses will perform in Vermont’s environment. The electric school and transit bus pilot program will be a targeted way for the State to gather critical data and engage in problem-solving to determine how these technologies may be most effectively deployed in Vermont. To help inform this pilot program, ANR released a Request for Information (RFI) today. The RFI invites entities interested in administering the program to provide responses to questions regarding important factors for consideration in the design of this pilot program.
The Trust directs that funds be used to mitigate the harm caused by the excess nitrogen oxides (NOx) released by VW vehicles and can go towards projects that reduce NOx emissions by replacing or repowering heavy-duty diesel vehicles and equipment with cleaner, innovative technologies. Up to 15 percent of the funds may also be used to help public and private entities build light-duty electric vehicle charging stations throughout the state. In the first round of investments, the State aims to demonstrate the feasibility and market viability of all-electric heavy-duty school and transit buses that mitigate NOx emissions, and to maximize public and private investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure to reduce NOX emissions from light-duty vehicles.
More information on the VW Mitigation Trust and Vermont’s final Beneficiary Mitigation Plan is available at dec.vermont.gov/air-quality/vw. In accordance with the Trust, Vermont must file a Beneficiary Mitigation Plan with the Trustee to receive funds. Given the evolving nature of the electric vehicle market and uncertainties regarding application and interest levels for particular project types and categories, it is important to note that the Beneficiary Mitigation Plan is a living document and may continue to be updated over the 10-year life of the Trust.
Entities interested in submitting a response to the electric school and transit bus pilot program RFI should visit the Vermont Business Assistance Network website at www.vermontbidsystem.com or contact Maria Davies at firstname.lastname@example.org. Details of a program to provide funds to entities for the installation of electric vehicle charging stations, to be administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development, will be available later this summer.