Who is Funding Electrification?

Jan. 17, 2021
Bellwether states are funding electrification largely through clean energy or clean transportation programs. Here are some of the latest funding announcements.

Funding electrification is likely to be a high priority for the Biden administration as it enacts new climate policies in the U.S. But as is often the case when it comes to energy transformation, bellwether states are already ahead of the game.

By Olivier Le Moal/Shutterstock.com

Some of these states are tapping into the $3 billion pool of funds from the settlement with Volkswagen over its violation of the Clean Air Act. They are using the money to reduce transportation emissions and meet climate goals. Other states have dedicated transportation or clean energy funds ready-made for electrification programs.

Here are some recent funding announcements.

New York funds bus electrification

In late December, New York announced $16.4 million to increase electric buses for public transportation and $2.5 million for school bus operators to acquire cleaner forms of transportation with lower emissions.

“Electrifying transit and school buses at scale is an important step in our fight against climate change and is essential in helping us reach our ambitious goals to create a greener New York state,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

The $16.4 million is part of the New York Truck Voucher Incentive Program, funded from the Volkswagen settlement. The money is available to the five of the largest public transit operators in the state.

The program pays 100% of the vehicle costs for new, zero emissions all-electric buses that are housed at bus depots or operate on routes located within a half-mile of a disadvantaged community.

This announcement is the latest of several electrification announcements coming out of New York. Others include a rebate for charging ports in disadvantaged communities ($4,500 per port); $206 million toward equitable electrification access for lower socioeconomic and disadvantaged communities; and $11 million of Volkswagen settlement money for building a network of DC fast chargers in upstate New York.

New York is pursuing electrification to help achieve zero emissions electricity by 2040.

Washington state closes EV charging gaps

Washington is allotting $9.8 million in grants for 14 transportation electrification projects in communities across the state. The grants are meant to close gaps in EV charging infrastructure and assist communities hard hit by climate change and pollution from transportation.

The money comes from the state’s Clean Energy Fund and will result in over 11 counties installing 320 new plugs with Level 2, fast-charging, heavy duty public transportation charging stations.

The winning communities were among 37 that sought the funding. Money will go to several EV charging installations designated for affordable housing. The grants are managed by the state’s Department of Commerce.

In December, Gov. Jay Inslee proposed a Clean Energy Plan that includes $230 million over two years for electrifying buses and ferries, and for new charging stations for electric vehicles. 

Washington state has surpassed the governor’s initial goal of 50,000 EVs by 2020. 

California funding electrification with hydrogen

The California Energy Commission approved a plan to invest up to $115 million for fueling stations that support hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) — part of its move to phase out the sale of new gasoline passenger vehicles by 2035.

The state also has set a goal to deploy 200 public hydrogen fueling stations. The funding is expected to help the state meet this goal. It represents a doubling of its previous investment.

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are the most common zero emissions vehicles in the state, but more than 8,000 FCEVs also have been leased or sold.

In December, the commission awarded three grants totaling nearly $25 million for the installation of the first 30 stations. More than half of the stations approved to date will be built in or near disadvantaged communities.

Awards went to Irvine-based FirstElement Fuel ($15.5 million); San Francisco-based Equilon Enterprises, doing business as Shell Oil Products US ($7.3 million); and Santa Clara-based Iwatani Corporation of America ($1.9 million).

The commission awarded the grants through its Clean Transportation Program, which invests more than $100 million annually. About $20 million from the program – the maximum allowable under state law – is invested each year to support an initial network of at least 100 public hydrogen stations.

Now in its 12th year, the Clean Transportation Program has provided nearly $900 million to projects across the state covering a broad spectrum of alternative fuels and technologies.  

About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded RealEnergyWriters.com, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

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