How to Get Money for Clean Vehicles & Infrastructure

From cleaner-burning trash fleets and zero emission electric buses to EV charging stations, there is money, and incentives, for clean vehicles.

Cities around the country are quickly showing how grants and tax incentives can make clean vehicles a reality.

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Alternative Fuels Data Center lets users search federal and state incentives for cleaner vehicles and related infrastructure, such as fueling and charging stations. Search by location, type of fuel or technology, vehicle owner and type of incentive.

The following are examples of clean vehicles projects that Federal and state incentives have made possible.

Public Transportation

Financial assistance is available to for public transportation projects with low, or zero emission, clean vehicles. Currently through the 2015 FAST Act, the U.S. Department of Transportation has $28 million, up from $10.5 million in 2015, to cover up to 85 percent of project costs.

The FAST Act includes $55 million for the 2016 Low or No Emissions Bus Discretionary Grant Program (know as the Low-No Program).

Low-No winners are purchasing zero-emission electric buses, according to manufacturer Proterra:

  • Delaware Transit Corporation (Wilmington, Del.) will receive six.
  • Everett Transit (Everett, Wash.) will receive four.
  • Lextran (Lexington, Ky.) will receive one.
  • Park City Transit (Park City, Utah) will receive six.
  • Pierce Transit (Pierce County, Wash.) will receive two.
  • Port Arthur Transit (Port Arthur, Texas) will receive six.
  • SporTran (Shreveport, La.) will receive five.

State incentives also provide opportunities to make public transportation cleaner.

Such is the case with the Texas Clean Bus Program. The Houston-Galveston Clean Cities Coalition is helping local school districts replace old diesel buses with funding from the state's Supplemental Environmental Projects. In Houston-Galveston, the Clean School Bus Project has 550 new or retrofitted propane and diesel buses with lower emissions. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has also funded alternative fuel bus projects to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved emissions standards.

Public Fleets

Under the National Clean Fleets Partnership, the DOE Clean Cities program works with large private fleets to cut petroleum use. Cities have used more than $400 million in grants to reduce petroleum usage by converting conventional vehicles to run on natural gas.

The city of Phoenix, Ariz., is replacing diesel trucks in its sold waste fleet with compressed natural gas (CNG). Currently, there are 62 trucks, with the goal to convert 80 percent of the fleet by 2020.

Clean Cities TV:

Consumer Vehicles

It's not just state rebates and federal tax credits on clean vehicles purchases that will encourage consumers to make the switch to EVs or hybrids. Local infrastructure--like EV charging--is just as critical.

"They are all important pieces in switching from gas to electric," David Reichmuth, senior engineer in the Union of Concerned Scientists Clean Vehicles Program, told Gov1.

Currently, federal incentives for natural gas, electricity, 20 percent biodiesel blends and other fueling stations installed between January 1, 2015, and December 31, 2016, are eligible for a tax credit of 30 percent of the cost, up to $30,000. Just use Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 8911.

Fueling station owners of multiple sites may use the credit towards each location, and that's how the region around Kansas City, Mo., became an EV charging mecca. The city and the state do not currently offer incentives.

Last year Kansas City Power and Light (KCP&L) spent $20 million to build more than 1,000 public electric vehicle (EV) charging stations across its service area. According to E&E, there were about 800 electric vehicles in the metro area at the time. This year, with 613 charging stations in the KCP&L Clean Charge Network, there are more than 1,200 EVs and the numbers are trending up. Sessions at charging stations have reportedly quintupled and Kansas City is now just behind major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, Calif., in EV sales growth.

KCP&L is proving that if you build it, they will come.

"We saw a real opportunity to do electric vehicle infrastructure the right way the first time and really jump-start an industry here," said Chuck Caisley, vice president of marketing and public affairs for KCP&L.

Once the infrastructure is there, consumers an take advantage of additional federal, state and local clean vehicles incentives (like free public parking) where they exist.

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