Ontario ‘green’ truck incentives draw praise and skepticism

| 12/4/2008

The government of Ontario has promised to chip in on up to one-third of the cost of anti-idling equipment for long haulers and up to one-third of the cost of new alternative-fueled vehicles in the medium-duty class.

The $11 million set aside for the Green Commercial Vehicle Program is expected to go quickly as only $2.9 million of the fund is available for anti-idling equipment. The grants are available only for Ontario businesses.

Owner-operator groups welcome the funding but say more should have been made available for idling reduction.

“We’re glad to see the province helping truckers reduce their carbon footprint, but we’re a little disappointed in the amount of money set aside for technologies likely to be used by owner-operators,” Joanne Ritchie, executive director of the Owner-Operators Business Association of Canada, stated in a news release.

Ritchie pointed out that Natural Resources Canada provided $8 million for cab heaters and other equipment during a two-year period.

“I don’t think Ontario’s $2.9 million is going to last four years,” she said, adding that large motor carriers are sure to be in line to obtain grants to upgrade their fleets.

Ritchie is encouraging Canadian truckers to act quickly if they want to apply for a grant. Click here for more information about the program and to access application forms.

As part of the grant program, truckers must agree to have data-gathering devices installed on their trucks so the government can evaluate the environmental impact of the program. Data collected will include jurisdictional locations, service locations, idle time and how much greenhouse gas was emitted.

Laura O’Neill, government affairs counsel for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association in the U.S., says the data collection could be a bone of contention for truckers.

Still, she said, the grants could save truckers money if they are in need of anti-idling equipment.

Applications are due by Jan. 9, 2009. Requests for information should be directed to:
Green Commercial Vehicle Program
Ministry of Transportation, 30th Floor
777 Bay St., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M7A 2J8

The contact e-mail address is GCVP@ontario.ca. The phone numbers are 416-585-7285 or 866-767-0638. The fax number is 416-585-7204.

– By David Tanner, staff writer