EPA offers nearly $1B in grants for communities to swap heavy-duty vehicles for zero-emission versions

Colorado and some neighboring states have access to $67 million of the EPA's $932 million grants for eligible vehicles.
Posted: 6:20 PM, May 09, 2024
Updated: 2024-05-09 22:12:16-04

DENVER — Communities across the country have the chance to get a big boost from the federal government as part of ongoing efforts to shift to electric vehicles.

Around $932 million in grants are available for communities to swap out heavy-duty vehicles, like trucks and school buses, for electric versions.

At the moment, Denver Public Schools (DPS) has just a couple of electric school buses in their fleet of traditional diesel and gasoline buses.

"We have 330 buses. About 220 buses are driving around every single day, driving around 12,000 miles a day," said Albert Samora, executive director of Denver Public Schools Transportation.

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The district hopes to reduce emissions by 90% by the year 2050. The two highest emitters of CO2 in the district are facilities and transportation.

"Taking as little away from the environment and giving something back is always important to me," said Samora.

It can be costly to buy vehicles. Samora estimates a diesel bus to cost around $120,000 while electric buses cost up to $420,000. Even after that, organizations need chargers, extra infrastructure and employee training.

"We have basically a billion dollars to spend to give out grants," said Kerry Hick, environmental engineer with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

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The EPA is accepting applications for grants to help cover such costs, including related infrastructure costs.

Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, and 28 tribal nations can apply for $67 million of the nearly $1 billion. Depending on the cost of the vehicles, that could be around 180 new heavy-duty EVs.

DPS has 20 more EV buses on the way that were paid for through other state and EPA grants. According to the district, each EV bus reduces CO2 emissions by nearly 4 lbs per mile driven, with each electric bus reducing 40,000 lbs of CO2 emissions per year.

"We have to make sure that we're in front of this and we're looking at the problems, that we're solving them along the way," said Samora.

The deadline for applications is July 25.

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