Midwest Green Fleets Forum & Expo (2017) Offers Funding Alerts and Best Practices


The 9th year of the Ohio Green Fleets Awards celebrated eco-friendly fleet managers and seasoned technicians as part of the Midwest Green Fleets Forum & Expo in Columbus, Ohio on August 2nd – an event that explored the various options organizations have to green their fleet through engine upgrades, fuel conversion, and various efficiency measures.

Engine technologies will continue to improve as the world moves towards full electrification in the power sector, transportation, and other vital industries. There are already many low-cost, low-hanging changes to help improve the efficiency of fleet vehicles. Alternative fuels, aside from all-electric transportation, will still be around for decades to come as they help fill the gaps and work well in specialized applications and industries.

Attendees learned about future funding opportunities (see below for updates) for fleet upgrades in Ohio, but also cast a blanket of worry on national priorities within the federal administration. Overall, it appears the Dept. of Energy’s transportation efforts will begin to focus more on lab-based work and less on implementation grants for communities. Fleets can start to shift the conversation with action!


In the electrical transportation sector – aside from compressed natural gas, propane, bio-diesel and other alternative fuels – the challenges to national EV (electric vehicle) adoption will be based on charging capabilities and battery storage costs. With EV adoption you are essentially buying the fuel upfront, but as battery costs drop to nearly $100 per/kwh in the next decade the reason people will shift will be purely economics.

There are a wide variety of best practices fleets can adopt to lower fuel and maintenance costs while making a more positive impact on the environment. With a need for greater cooperation and education, events like the Midwest Green Fleets Forum & Expo make a huge difference.


Grant Opportunities (Updates as of August 2017): http://epa.ohio.gov/oee/EnvironmentalEducation.aspx


Alternative Fuel Vehicle Grants (AFV)

DRAFT application guidelines and forms are now posted on the AFV program webpage for review.  Ohio EPA considered seven comments received from Interested Parties in June, and has tried to clarify how applicants can demonstrate that proposed vehicle conversions are compliant with US EPA requirements. Please send questions about these draft documents to derg@epa.ohio.gov.

Ohio EPA is now preparing to file the rules, and hopes to issue a Request for Grant Proposals late this fall, once the rules are approved and in effect.


Diesel Emission Reduction Grants (DERG)

A number of projects that received grants in December, 2016, are on hold awaiting Buy America waivers required from the Federal Highway Administration.  FHWA has provided no explanation or indication of whether the delay is temporary or permanent.

Ohio EPA and ODOT will not issue another DERG Request for Proposals without assurance from FHWA that the federal funds that support the program will be forthcoming.


Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Fund (VW)

There has been some slippage in the schedule for this program as the Trustee (fund administrator) continues to negotiate with the court and parties to the settlement.  The Trust Effective Date is now expected sometime in August or September, to start the process for states to become certified as beneficiaries.  Ohio EPA is drafting a mitigation plan that we expect to circulate for formal public comment sometime this fall.

During early stakeholder outreach in late 2016, the most requested uses for the VW funds in Ohio were school bus replacements, transit bus replacements, and electric vehicle charging stations.  Ohio EPA is drafting a plan that includes all ten allowable uses of the funds.  We expect to release the first Request for Grant Proposals sometime during the first half of 2018.

The Fund is likely to focus on local freight – school, transit buses, shuttle in Class 4-7; models 1992-2009.


** A maximum 15% of funding could be carved out specifically for electric vehicles. This would be a separate application with a focus on electric charging at workplaces, multi-unit dwellings, and other areas for public use. The Fund, in Ohio, hopes to leverage already existing efforts – such as the Smart Columbus initiative – to maximize the effect of creating a robust charging network in key regions.


Contact Carolyn Watkins for additional questions: