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Webinar Shares Updates, Strategies to Secure VW Funding

A webinar produced in association with the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo reviewed the current standing of the Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Fund and recommended next steps for parties wanting to make sure they are in line for clean vehicle funding.

The Thursday webinar, “Your Map to the Money: Tips and Tools to Access VW Settlement Funds,” featured Joe Annotti, senior program manager for clean energy and transportation consultant firm Gladstein, Neandross and Associates (GNA) as well as Zachary Kahn, director of government relations for electric vehicle manufacturer BYD, and Utah state Rep. Stephen Handy.

Annotti explained that, as of Jan. 30, the state beneficiaries are certified and can now propose funding requests, which must be open for 30 days for comment from the public and stakeholders.

“The biggest hurdle we’ve been working to address is making sure state leaders know about the technology that’s available to them,” Kahn added. To that end, BYD sent personalized plans on how best to use VW funding to states with existing or forecasted interest in electric or low NOx vehicles.

Rep. Handy shared that he has spent time championing the replacement of older diesel school buses in his state. When Utah received $7.5 million from a punitive settlement paid by Volkswagen for its emissions cheat scandal, that money was diverted to a school bus grant program that is currently running. The state still has about $35 million coming from the VW Mitigation Trust Fund itself.

“Your legislatures ought to get involved, establish parameters and stay engaged,” he recommended.

Each state has its own needs and politics, Annotti said, and each has started breaking down what will be covered by the funds it gets. For example, Colorado plans to set aside almost 20 percent of what it gets as flex funds in order to give more to projects that turn out to be successful. Pennsylvania wants to spend almost 60 percent of its share on rail and marine vessels, where representatives there say a significant NOx reduction can be achieved. In Arkansas, up to 60 percent of the funds could go to a CNG school bus program.

Washington state, Kahn added, has been vocal on electric vehicles while looking beyond just NOx reduction.

“We’re seeing various vehicle types prioritized and it varies by state,” Annotti said.

“All the states are trying their best and being unique,” noted Kahn.

Annotti provided a look at the free Project Competitiveness Calculator tool that GNA released just after the webinar. Fleet owners can input their fleet size, current fuel, and planned fuel to receive a recommendation on their possible funding eligibility. He added that fleet owners should share with their state beneficiary a snapshot of their current fleet, as well as the NOx reduction, money savings and lowered GHG emission rate that could be achieved with VW funding.

A more detailed tool also just released by GNA is the VW Funding 360 Portal where, for $250 a month, subscribers can access detailed, up-to-date information on state plans, get contact info for state beneficiaries, be notified on open comment periods, see intelligence on what has been proposed, and know how best to engage in order to secure funding.

A listener asked the presenters if infrastructure was covered by VW funds, and Annotti revealed that it was not, with the only exception being chargers for electric vehicles. Kahn added that only the chargers themselves are covered, not related costs like installation.

STN is a media sponsor of the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo being held in Long Beach, California, on April 30-May 3, 2018.

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