The new Medium- & and Heavy-Duty Zero-Emissions (MHD-ZEV) Fleet Pilot Grant Program Initiative money will help get dirty diesel trucks out of high-traffic communities.
The new $12.7 million grant program will give businesses, local governments, and nonprofits money to replace their dirty diesel trucks with electric vehicles, helping to significantly improve air quality in communities that currently have some of the poorest air quality in Pennsylvania.
Replacing aging diesel fleets with new zero-emission vehicles will reduce emissions by as much as 100 percent.
Driving PA Forward is the set for grant and rebate programs which are a part of a Department of Environmental Protection initiative. The initiative is funded by the national Volkswagen settlement over cheating on U.S. EPA emissions tests.
In addition to the new program, 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.
These grants will also lead to vehicle lifetime operating cost savings for fleet owners and operators. For example, a 200-mile trip would cost $169 for a diesel truck (assuming $4.99 per gallon of diesel) while a similar trip with a Tesla Semi would cost $28, a saving of 83%.
What will the new grant program do?
The grant recipients need to replace three to five or more vehicles, depending on the size of the fleet, and the money will:
- contribute to or cover the cost of the electric vehicles themselves
- businesses and nonprofits covering 75% of the cost
- municipalities covering 90% of the cost
- financially distressed municipalities covering 100% of the cost
- and the infrastructure needed to charge them
Grant recipients will have two years to get the new electric trucks on the road and they will provide data on how they purchased their electric trucks, installed charging and, once the vehicles go into use, operational data on fleet performance.
“These are the kind of trucks many of us see on a regular basis in our neighborhoods, such as garbage, recycling, utility, and delivery trucks,” said Ramez Ziadeh, acting secretary of PA’s Department of Environmental Protection, in a press conference Thursday. “It’s vitally important that transportation move in the direction of electrification.”
“The program should help protect communities from the unhealthy exhaust,” Ziadeh said.
The 2022–2023 Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero-Emission Vehicle Fleet Pilot Grant initiative opens for applications on Wednesday, November 23, 2022. Applications will be accepted through 11:59 P.M. on March 1, 2023.
See the Program Guidelines below for more details.
Why move away from diesel to EV semis?
To put it simply, electric vehicles have zero tailpipe emissions whereas, on average, one 15-year-old diesel garbage truck traveling approximately 14,000 miles annually will have emitted more than 1.1 tons of Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) over its lifetime.
Additionally, while 1% vehicles in the United States are Semis, they make up 18-20% of vehicle emissions and over 30% in particulate matter emissions.
In Pennsylvania, “fossil fuel vehicles generate 50.2% of the nitrogen oxides in the air, as well as carbon monoxide, fine particulate matter, and hydrocarbons,” Ziadeh said.
This particulate exhaust from diesel trucks can make heart and lung issues worse, and even cause cancer. In fact, more than 10% of adults in Pennsylvania (above the national average) have asthma, according to the CDC.
The new grant money will be focused on Environmental Justice areas, which Pennsylvania defines as places where at least 20% of people are at or below the federal poverty line or at least 30% of residents are people of color, as well as areas with high traffic density.
“The health effects include premature death in people with heart or lung disease, heart attacks, aggravated asthma, and increased respiratory [symptoms] such as coughing and difficulty breathing.”
In Philadelphia, there are stark differences in the rate of child asthma hospitalizations by ZIP code, with Black and Hispanic kids hospitalized due to asthma at rates more than four times higher than white kids.
What are the EV truck options?
Model year 1992–2009 Class 4–8 local freight trucks that operate predominantly in Pennsylvania are eligible for replacement.
Eligible project vehicles must be replaced with new zero-emission trucks of similar class and vocation.
“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.”
For Class 8 electric Semis, below is a list of truck options to consider:
Regarding charging options, Tesla’s new charging technology allows their Semi truck to gain 70 percent state of charge in just 30 minutes, and they are working with Semi customers to utilize solar power, megapack storage, and charging stations.
All fleets need to conduct proper and thorough pre and post trip inspections, which consists of implementing quality:
- driver training that is ongoing and consistent
- driver education, and
- driver awareness of current and changing traffic laws
All of this will help prevent being a target for the DOT at roadside inspections and is a valuable resource to ensure a healthy fleet, and compliant safety practices.