DEEP Announces Award of $12.7 Million in Volkswagen Settlement Funds For 43 New Electric School Buses in Environmental Justice Communities
Investments Represent an Unprecedented Level of EV School Bus Investment in Connecticut; Funding Also Provided For Electric Crane
(HARTFORD)—The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) announced today that the State of Connecticut is making available $12.7 million from the legal settlement in the Volkswagen (VW) Corporation emissions cheating scandal to fund five electric projects in the state, all in environmental justice communities.
For the first time, all of the VW funding awarded in this round will be dedicated to electrification projects. These awards will help to replace forty-three diesel school buses with new electric school buses that will operate in Middletown, New Britain, Hamden, Stamford, Bethel, Ansonia and Griswold, and an electrified crane at the Port of New Haven. The buses represent an unprecedented level of electric vehicle (EV) school bus investment for Connecticut, at a time when the state needs to make significant strides in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector. The funds will also support the replacement of a nearly fifty-year-old diesel-powered crane with a new electrified crane at the Port of New Haven. The crane will be among the first of its kind on the East Coast.
“Climate change is not a future problem; it’s real, it’s now and it cannot be ignored. It is imperative that we make every effort to reduce emissions,” Governor Lamont said. “The innovative projects we’re announcing today are a tremendous investment in ensuring a healthier environment especially for our children. Everyday thousands of children ride school buses throughout Connecticut. Diesel-powered school buses are a source of fine particulate matter and other harmful emissions that can impact developing lungs. These awards will go a long way towards helping to improve air quality and protect public health, in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by air pollution for too long.”
“The selected projects will provide direct benefits to residents in environmental justice communities where levels of fine particulate matter can be up to 20% higher than in less densely populated parts of the state,” said DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes. “Fine particulate matter is known to impact public health and can be an asthma trigger. According to a 2021 study of the most challenging places to live with asthma, New Haven is ranked 5th nationally. The selected projects will reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions while providing direct benefits to residents in environmental justice communities that have historically borne disproportionate impacts of air pollution from vehicle traffic.”
In 2015, Volkswagen publicly admitted that it had deliberately installed a defeat device – software designed to cheat emissions tests and deceive federal and state regulators – in nearly 590,000 VW, Audi, and Porsche model year 2009 to 2016 diesel vehicles sold nationwide, with nearly 12,000 vehicles sold in Connecticut. As a result of a federal civil enforcement case against VW for violating the Clean Air Act, Connecticut was allocated more than $55.7 million to be distributed over a ten-year period for use toward offsetting the excess nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution emitted in the state by these vehicles.
In 2018, DEEP launched the first round of funding under the VW Diesel Emissions Mitigation Program, receiving 56 proposals requesting $31.7 million. The state awarded $12.18 million dollars to fund ten (10) clean air projects in Connecticut. In 2019, DEEP released the second solicitation under the VW Diesel Emissions Mitigation Program, receiving 29 applications, of which 15 were funded at a total of $6.25 million for projects that further the goals of the settlement agreement.
DEEP’s approach in this third VW grant round focused on electrification and is informed by both the Electric Vehicle Roadmap for Connecticut and the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA)’s Zero Emission Vehicles Docket (No. 7-12-03RE04), as well as stakeholder feedback prior to issuing the Round Three solicitation for projects.
For this round, DEEP received 28 applications from both non-government and government entities. Projects were ranked by a variety of criteria, including air pollution reduction, cost effectiveness, positive impact on environmental justice communities, transformative and innovative impact, and applicant cost sharing. The $12.7 million in funding awarded today will be matched by additional investments of $7.2 million from the recipients so that the total direct economic impact of today’s action is $19.9 million.
The strong response to DEEP’s third VW grant round confirms that there is growing demand for EV school buses in Connecticut. The new federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) has established $5 billion in federal grant funding for clean school buses, with 50% of that funding focused exclusively on electric school buses. The funding in the EPA-administered BIL clean school bus program will be awarded on a competitive basis. The results of this third VW grant round in Connecticut indicate that there is strong recognition among Connecticut municipalities and service providers of the benefits of electric school buses, which could translate to robust demand for federal and other grant funding opportunities.
The projects announced under this funding cycle of DEEP’s VW Diesel Emissions Mitigation Program are:
- Replace one EMY 1973 diesel-powered gantry crane with an EMY 2022 all-electric equivalent. The crane will be located at the Port of New Haven, CT, which is in an environmental justice community.
- Award: $3,155,486.00
- Awardee’s Cost Share: $2,103,658.00
- Location: Port of New Haven, CT
First Student, Inc.
- Scrappage and Replacement of sixteen (16) engine model year (EMY) 2006-2009, Class 5 and Class 7 school buses, with EMY 2022 EV equivalents; charging infrastructure included. These buses serve three environmental justice communities.
- Award: $3,242,944.00
- Awardee’s Cost Share: $1,746,196.00
- Location: Bethel, Hamden, and Stamford, CT
- This is partial funding of an initial proposal to replace a total of 25 diesel school buses which also included buses in Middlebury and Tolland, CT
DATTCO New Britain
- Scrappage and Replacement of four (4) engine model year (EMY) 2009, Class 7 school buses, with EMY 2023 EV equivalents; charging infrastructure included. These buses serve an environmental justice community.
- Award: $1,060,479.00
- Awardee’s Cost Share: $571,027.00
- Location: New Britain, CT
- Scrappage and Replacement of six (6) engine model year (EMY) 2009, Class 7 school buses, with EMY 2023 EV equivalents; charging infrastructure included. These buses serve an environmental justice community.
- Award: $1,504,731.00
- Awardee’s Cost Share: $810,240.00
- Location: Middletown, CT
Student Transportation of America, Inc.
- Scrappage and Replacement of seventeen (17) engine model year (EMY) 2009, Class 7 school buses, with EMY 2023 EV equivalents; charging infrastructure included. These buses serve two environmental justice communities.
- Award: $3,743,915.00
- Awardee’s Cost Share: $2,015,954.00
- Location: Ansonia and Griswold, CT
The five projects selected for funding under this funding cycle, over their lifetime, will reduce almost 28.71 tons of NOx emissions and almost 5,589 tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. In addition to NOx and GHG, a total of 2.30 tons of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and 1.38 tons of fine particulate matter, which contributes to asthma and other negative health impacts, will be cost-effectively reduced from environmental justice communities and other areas of Connecticut that bear a disproportionate share of air pollution.
NOx and VOC contribute to the formation of ground level ozone, an air pollutant known to cause a number of adverse respiratory health effects, including significant decreases in lung function and inflammation of airways. Ozone forms when NOx and VOC from combustion sources like motor vehicles react in strong sunlight. DEEP has and continues to implement emission control programs to mitigate ozone’s negative impact on public health in Connecticut.