$40 million in grants available for drivers operating in CA trade corridors

| 7/18/2008

Thousands of owner-operators who run through California’s four major trade corridors may be eligible for a diesel engine grant program that’s part of the state’s billion dollar Goods Movement Emission Reduction Program.

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District will accept applications from now until early September for a $40.5 million wave of grants to replace trucks, replace engines and retrofit engines with a diesel particulate filter.

Several categories of funding are available, including:

  • $50,000 to replace 2003 or older trucks with new trucks that meet 2007 emissions standard;
  • $20,000 to replace a 2003 or older engine with a new engine that meets 2007 standards; or
  • $5,000 to retrofit a 2006 or older truck with an ARB-verified level 3 diesel particulate filter.

Applications must come from truck operators who are registered in California, who drive exclusively in California and have spent at least 50 percent of their miles traveling on the state’s four trade corridors during the past two years, including the Central Valley, the Bay Area, the Los Angeles/Inland Empire or the San Diego/border corridors.

“With 95 million miles traveled each day through the Valley, mainly along Highway 99 and Interstate 5 corridors, these funds will serve a much-needed purpose in helping clean up diesel exhaust emissions,” said Seyed Sadredin, the Air District’s executive director and air pollution control officer.

For more information on the incentive program and program applications, visit the “grants and Incentives” section at www.valleyair.org or email weberip@valleyair.org, or contact the Emission Reduction Incentive Program at 800-SMOG-INFO (800-766-4463).

Todd DeYoung, the air district’s supervising air quality specialist, told both Land Line and Land Line Now that the air quality district understands that older trucks run in the Golden State belong to small businesses and owner operators rather than large fleets.

“One of our main missions is to target owner operators and small businesses,” DeYoung said. “We’ve been focusing a lot of our marketing toward small-business operations.”

DeYoung said the district did not necessarily target owner-operators. Publicity for the applications was generated by trade publications and meetings with truck dealerships who have brought in applicants.

The Air Quality District recently published a list of about 70 $50,000 truck replacement grants and nearly 400 $5,000 diesel engine retrofit grants conditionally approved under California’s early diesel emission reduction program. CARB did not require the early grants to be handed out through an open application process, and DeYoung said the air district relied on applications left over from previous grants.

Both programs rate truck engines by oxides of nitrogen and diesel particulate combined with miles driven. The air district judges each individual truck based on its own merit, DeYoung said, no matter how many trucks a given company applies for.

The district understands that large truck fleets typically replace trucks on a shorter cycle than smaller companies, he said.

“One of the main tenets of the program was to ensure the single owner operators had an equal footing, and had an equal opportunity to fund these programs,” DeYoung told Land Line. “Because it’s looked at on a truck-by-truck basis, it really evens the playing field. If they’re keeping their trucks only four and five years, they’re not going to score as high. Even if they run a lot more miles, they’re generally not going to score as high as an earlier model, or an old truck that runs even a minimal amount of miles.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer