Category Archives: Featured

2022 Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference a Success for the Clean Transportation Community

The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) welcomed more than 350 registered attendees in Durham, NC for the 2022 Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference & Expo. The conference showcased the latest and greatest technologies in the biofuels, electric, natural gas and propane arenas – including everything from Progress Solar’s latest mobile solar electric vehicle (EV) charging model to the diverse display of alternative fuel vehicles and other clean transportation technologies.

Over 80 speakers from a variety of backgrounds presented their ideas and best practices during the conference – highlighting the leading edge of sustainable fleet practices and clean transportation opportunities – including fleet managers, technicians, company presidents and CEOs, university professors, researchers, analysts, nonprofit managers, motivational speakers and more. “It was inspiring to see professionals from different industries and backgrounds coming together to exchange ideas for improving the sustainability of transportation in our state and beyond,” said Heather Brutz, Director of the NCCETC Clean Transportation Program.

The sixth annual Sustainable Fleet Technology (SFT) Conference was able to return in-person in 2022 for the first time since 2019, bringing together fleet professionals and decision-makers to share and discuss evolving clean transportation strategies and technologies. Brutz marked SFT 2022 as a success in meeting this objective. “We’re fostering a community where members support each other during this transition to integrate sustainable operations and technologies into their fleets,” said Brutz.

During expo hall hours, attendees were able to network with more than 60 exhibitors while exploring over a dozen vehicles inside and outside of the convention center, with displays including a Chevy Bolt, Ford E-Transit, the City of Charlotte’s Ford F-150 Lightning and Ford Mustang Mach-E, the City of Durham’s bucket truck with a plug-in electric power take-off (PTO) solution by Viatec, Lightning eMotors, Thomas Built Buses Jouley Saf-T-Liner C2 electric school bus, Zero Motorcycles, an Electric Vehicle (EV) Fast Charger from Siemens, Progress Solar’s Mobile Solar Light Tower solution, XL Flee’s Hybrid Electric Upfit, Cenntro’s all-electric Logistar 400 and off-road utility task vehicle ORV, a long-range electric low-speed vehicle from Carolina Industrial Equipment, and more.

“This year the expo hall was full of a lot of electrifying conversations,” said John Bonitz, Clean Transportation Specialist at NCCETC. “There’s a lot of opportunities coming from recent federal and state actions encouraging creativity from both the manufacturers and the end-users.”

During the pre-conference day, NAFA Fleet Management Association hosted a Sustainable Fleet Management Program Boot Camp before announcing the 2022 winners of the 100 Best Fleets and Green Fleet Awards. Triangle Clean Cities also hosted the Triangle Electric Vehicle Summit, and Cenntro vehicles were available for the ride & drive outside of the convention center.

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS & BREAKOUT SESSIONS

Keynote speakers John Konkel, Director of GM Fleet in the Southeast Region, and Robert Gordon, Fleet Management Deputy Director in Dekalb County kicked off day one of SFT 2022.

SFT Conference tracks included Vehicle Applications, Fueling Infrastructure, and Planning & Technology. Attendees were able to choose from 12 breakout sessions across the tracks:

  • Alternative Fuel Vehicle Emissions Reductions & Case Studies
  • Best Practices for Managing Fleet Charging Equipment
  • Telematics: Realtime Information for Optimizing Fleet Performance & Safety
  • Hydrogen as a Transportation Solution
  • Charging Equipment Service & Maintenance for Reliability
  • Considerations & Opportunities for Rural Communities
  • Alternative Fuel Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Case Studies
  • Alternative Fuel Resilience Considerations
  • Funding & Financing Your Sustainable Fleet
  • Understanding Batteries
  • Considerations in EVSE Networking, Communications & Specifications
  • Idle Reduction an Easy Win

The plenary panel Industry Roundtable: Getting the Win in Sustainable Fleet was moderated by John Davis, Emmy® Award-winning producer, host and creator of MotorWeek. The panel featured Ted Koupparis of General Motors Fleet, Patrick Campbell of Cummins, Dawn Fenton of Volvo Group North America, Stuart Weidie of Alliance AutoGas, and Patrick Scully of Ballard Fuel Systems.

Stuart Weidie spoke of the long future of the internal combustion engine and the viable role for propane and other alternative fuels, a view shared by others on the panel. They examined the current state of sustainable transportation and identified opportunities for overcoming barriers to meeting goals for today and the future.

Dawn Fenton outlined two of the barriers many heavy-duty fleets face when building toward a sustainable fleet: the lack of established infrastructure for refueling alternative fuel vehicles and the need for incentives on local and nationwide scales.

Fenton said recent federal programs like those outlined in the Inflation Reduction Act have the potential to help public fleets overcome these obstacles. The Act includes expansions and extensions of utility-scale tax credits and rebates to incentivize the purchase of electric medium- and heavy-duty trucks as well as its associated refueling infrastructure.

“Many utilities have also established make-ready programs to help lower the cost of infrastructure for heavy-duty fleet vehicles and equipment,” Fenton added.

Day two began with plenary panel Leadership Triple Play featuring Motivational Speaker & Scottsdale-based Leadership Development Coach Ramsey Bergeron of Bergeron Wellbeing, Lonnie Mayne of Red Shoes Living, Inc. and City of Orlando’s Facilities Management Division Manager David Dunn. The panel highlighted principles for fleet managers to employ to help their organizations successfully embrace change and improve results.

Later that day, Robbie Astrop, Sr. Business Development Manager at ABM moderated the plenary panel Industry Roundtable: Delivering Electrons for Transportation Electrification. Speakers on the panel were Todd Ritter, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of EvStructure; James Tillman, Sr. Vice President Business Development, Brytemove Energy; Sean Ackley, EV & Mobility Segment Lead of Hitachi Energy; and Anne Blair, Electrification Coalition’s Director of Policy.

Sean Ackley, an engineering graduate of NC State University, has had a career focus on electrical infrastructure technologies and execution projects. As Hitachi America’s resident expert on EV technologies, Ackley leverages his background in cloud managed services, product development, testing interoperability, and construction project management in facilitating critical thinking around the transition of large fleets to electric powertrain.

Ackley knows the transition to alternative fuel of large fleets is no small feat and he expressed that during the panel. “It’s a whole ecosystem,” said Ackley. “We’re changing the world.”

Ackley stressed the importance of future-proofing technology to support the expansion of infrastructure and equipment as it evolves. “Start early, think ahead, and get creative,” Ackley advised when asked about specific strategies for load management and deployment.

Overall, the panelists agreed that transitioning fleets to electric vehicles is a multi-aspect process that involves planning, coordination, maintenance, strategies for managing electrical load, and more. The roundtable discussion focused on charging options, use cases, policies and strategies to meet today’s needs, as well as what is needed to further transportation electrification.

Industry Roundtable: Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Electric Vehicle Portfolio Planning was the conference’s final plenary panel and joined together several major OEMs to share their plans and investments related to bringing a light-duty EV line-up to market from what is available to what is coming.

”A lot of OEMs have been announcing major developments in regards to electric vehicle offerings within their portfolio,” said Brutz, who moderated the panel’s speakers: Bryan Chapman, Southeast Government Sales Account Manager, Stellantis NA; Ted Koupparis, Sales Enablement Manager, General Motors Fleet; James Morgan, Government Sales Manager, Ford Motor Company; Mark Namuth, Manager, Fleet Commercial Sales, Nissan; and Scott Bargatze, Southeast Commercial Sales Manager, Nissan.

The NCCETC hosts the annual Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference as part of its mission to advance a sustainable energy economy by educating, demonstrating and providing support for clean energy technologies, practices and policies.

PowerPoint presentations will be available in the coming weeks at www.SustainableFleetExpo.com. Stay tuned for next year’s conference dates. Don’t miss out on future updates for the 2023 Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference – sign up for the clean transportation newsletter now!

Kick Off National Drive Electric Week With the NC Clean Energy Technology Center

National Drive Electric Week starts this month, September 23 through October 2, 2022! National Drive Electric Week, or NDEW, is an annual event in the United States celebrating all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. The national campaign is presented by Plug in America, Sierra Club and Electric Auto Association and consists of hundreds of free events across the nation. 

The NC Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) is kicking off this year’s National Drive Electric Week at the Wake Forest versus Clemson University football game Saturday, September 24. Before the game begins, fans are invited to join the NCCETC for a tailgate and plug-in electric vehicle (EV) car show at Truist Field on Wake Forest University’s campus. The following Thursday, September 29, NCCETC is hosting another EV car show and demonstration with test drives at Venture Plaza on NC State’s Centennial Campus. 

National Drive Electric Week began in 2011 to provide free, helpful and in-depth information for those beginning their electric vehicle journey. Today, more than two million EVs have been sold in the United States, and 90 percent of EV drivers report they will purchase another EV for their next vehicle, according to a recent survey conducted by Plug In America

NDEW events help spread awareness about the benefits of driving electric, including decreased emissions, fuel savings and enhanced performance of electric vehicles. Thousands of North Carolinians attend National Drive Electric week events each year, and there are currently ten individual events currently scheduled for this year across the state. 

The Clean Transportation Program at NCCETC has participated in the national campaign for several years now and, in 2021, sponsored two in-person EV ride and drive events in addition to two virtual webinars on electric vehicle topics including innovative charging solutions and idle reduction

“Every year during National Drive Electric Week events, we give people the opportunity to get their hands on an EV and ask EV owners all of their questions,” explained Heather Brutz, Clean Transportation Program Director for NCCETC. “When they leave, they are confident in making their next vehicle purchase electric and even come back to showcase their new EVs to get others to make the switch at future events!”

Learn more about upcoming events and register to attend by visiting the links listed below. 

Those interested in going electric can also explore a variety of EVs and their drivers’ experiences driving electric through our Electric Driver Profile series. NCCETC previously sat down with seven EV drivers to hear about the benefits of going electric.

Our newest EV Driver Profile features Kelly Witter, a recent EV owner who shared, “EVs are quiet, have fewer moving parts and reduce air pollution and fossil fuel use. Plus, charging at public stations is more enjoyable than gas stations and I can be productive while I charge.”

The 50 States of Electric Vehicles: Zero-Emission Buses, Charging-As-A-Service Programs, and Demand Charge Alternatives Addressed During Q2 2022

Raleigh, NC – (August 5, 2022) The N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) released its Q2 2022 edition of The 50 States of Electric Vehicles. The quarterly series provides insights on state regulatory and legislative discussions and actions on electric vehicles and charging infrastructure.

The report finds that 47 states and the District of Columbia took actions related to electric vehicles and charging infrastructure during Q2 2022 (see figure below), with the greatest number of actions relating to rebate and  grant programs, rate design for vehicle charging, and state procurement of electric vehicles.

A total of 569 electric vehicle actions were taken during Q2 2022, with the most active states being Massachusetts, California, Illinois, New York, Minnesota, Michigan, and New Jersey. So far in 2022, at least 82 bills related to transportation electrification have been enacted across 35 states.

Q2 2022 State and Utility Action on Electric Vehicles

The report discusses three trends in electric vehicle actions taken in Q2 2022: (1) states encouraging zero-emission school bus deployment, (2) utilities proposing charging-as-a-service programs, and (3) states and utilities continuing to examine demand charge alternatives for commercial charging.

“There was a flurry of legislative activity across the second quarter. Along with expanding some existing financing programs to include EV infrastructure, legislators ordered the creation of new incentive programs, implemented new or more stringent procurement targets, and even weighed in on permitting issues,” observed Rebekah de la Mora, Policy Analyst at NCCETC.

The report notes five of the top policy developments of the quarter:

  • Indiana and New Jersey regulators approving new utility incentive programs;
  • Maine lawmakers adopting zero-emission vehicle targets;
  • The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission approving new electric vehicle charging rates;
  • Arizona utilities filing transportation electrification plans; and
  • California regulators filing proposed regulations establishing targets for zero-emission vehicle sales.

“We have seen utilities developing creative programs for EVs,” noted Brian Lips, Senior Policy Project Manager at NCCETC. “From subscription rates coupled with managed charging, to EV service equipment tariffs, utilities are exploring new services to offer their customers.”

View the 50 States of Electric Vehicles Q2 2022 Executive Summary
View and Purchase the 50 States of Electric Vehicles Q2 2022 update FULL Report
View other 50 States Reports – Solar, Grid Modernization and Electric Vehicles

ABOUT THE N.C. CLEAN ENERGY TECHNOLOGY CENTER

The N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center, as part of the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University, advances a sustainable energy economy by educating, demonstrating and providing support for clean energy technologies, practices and policies. It serves as a resource for innovative, sustainable energy technologies through technology demonstration, technical assistance, outreach and training. For more information about the  Center, visit: http://www.nccleantech.ncsu.edu. Twitter: @NCCleanTech

 

Media Contact: Shannon Helm, NCCETC, shannon_helm@ncsu.edu

2022 “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest Winners Share Their Story

In the fifth year of the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC)’s “Keep Our Air Clean” Student Art Contest, students in North Carolina from kindergarten through high school submitted their artwork for a chance to be featured on billboards across the state. Students were asked to create art focused on actions that people can take to reduce air pollution from vehicles and help keep the air clean. NCCETC congratulated three artists located in Morrisville, Weddington and Raleigh, N.C. 

The art contest originated from Heather Brutz, Interim Director of the Clean Transportation Program at NCCETC, who thought of the Student Art Contest while recalling her previous experience as a middle school teacher. “I hoped the contest could engage young people’s creativity to help spread awareness about the ways we can reduce air pollution from vehicles,” Brutz said. 

Air pollution is one of the ways climate change impacts our health today, with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) reporting almost 9 out of 10 people who live in urban areas worldwide are affected by air pollution. The NIEHS explains air pollution can affect lung development and increase the amount and seriousness of lung disease and asthma. Children, the elderly, and people living in areas with high levels of air pollution are especially susceptible. 

“Clean air is vital for health,” Brutz said. “This is true for people of all ages, but there is research that shows that exposure to air pollution for kids increases their chances of getting asthma, which affects their health for the rest of their lives.”

As a teacher, Brutz would try a variety of different teaching methods to capture students’ attention. “I applied that same thinking when I first came up with the idea for the art contest- I wanted to engage a different audience than we sometimes interact with in our other educational activities at the Center and engage that audience in a different way than what we were already doing,” explained Brutz. “Artwork is a powerful tool and I was excited to find a way to work together with young artists to help spread the message about ways we can keep our air clean.” 

NCCETC received submissions from students in elementary, middle and high schools across the state. “It’s always rewarding to see how creative students are with their work,” said Brutz. “Although we are only able to choose three winners whose artwork will be displayed on billboards, every single young artist who submitted should feel proud of their contribution.”

To learn what clean air means to them, we asked the winners some questions about their artwork:

Elementary School Winner – Sudeep Asam | Morrisville Elementary School | Morrisville, NC

Why did you want to enter the contest?

I want to express my feelings in the “keep our air clean” contest.

What does your artwork mean/what were you trying to express?

My artwork expresses how pollution spoils our environment and ways to stop the pollution and be a solution.

What does “keep our air clean” mean to you? Why do you think keeping our air clean is important?

If our air is clean, people and nature stay healthy.

Are you doing things in your own life – like riding your bike, carpooling, walking, etc?

Yes, I do walking and biking.

What was your reaction when you found out you won the contest?

I feel very happy.

What do you hope will come out of your artwork being up on a billboard for people to see?

I am hoping my artwork inspires some of the people and will start working on stopping pollution.

Anything else you’d like to share.

Everyone should take a pledge to stop the pollution and be a solution.

Middle School Winner – Evie Frain | Weddington Middle School | Weddington, NC

Why did you want to enter the contest?

I entered this contest with the purpose to show the progression of pollution, because it is commonly seen as something intangible. People often think that climate change, pollution, and global warming are far off in the future, when in reality they aren’t.

What does your artwork mean/what were you trying to express?

My artwork is meant to express that the current rate of fossil fuel burning is dangerous to both the lives of humans and the environment.

What does “keep our air clean” mean to you? Why do you think keeping our air clean is important?

To me, “keep our air clean” stresses the importance of conscientious efforts today. Clean air is needed for all living organisms, so the viability of the future depends on us acting now. 

Are you doing things in your own life – like riding your bike, carpooling, walking, etc?

I try to carpool and limit the amount of places I have to go.

What was your reaction when you found out you won the contest?

I was surprised, I had never expected to win. I only put my artwork into the contest because I am passionate about switching to clean energy.

What do you hope will come out of your artwork being up on a billboard for people to see?

I hope people will rethink some of their own personal uses of fossil fuels and find a way to limit them.

Anything else you’d like to share.

Besides limiting fossil fuels, it’s also environmentally beneficial to recycle and reuse items.

High School Winner – Emilyn Haddock | Broughton High School | Raleigh, NC 

Why did you want to enter the contest?

​The reason why I wanted to enter the contest was to get the chance to express my artwork. There are rare times in my life I was able to have a chance to submit my artwork into a contest. Usually when I enter my creations, I do it for the sole purpose of expressing my work and have a chance for someone to review. It is nice to see my artwork being appreciated and to be seen by people.

What does your artwork mean/what were you trying to express?

​My meaning behind my artwork is to have a conscious decision between riding your bike to work or to your local grocery store then potentially spending more money on gas and burn more carbon fuel.

What does “keep our air clean” mean to you? Why do you think keeping our air clean is important?

​The phrase “keep our air clean” means that keeping toxic fumes in our air we breathe. We take clean air for granted and if we don’t appreciate and take measures of keeping it clean, masks will be more ingrained to our daily routine then the pandemic. It is important to keep our air clean because having unclean air can cause health problems, terrible living conditions and people with breathing conditions will have a much harder time going outside. Keeping our air clean also means some caring about other peoples health by going to measures of reducing carbon fuel and debris in the air.

Are you doing things in your own life – like riding your bike, carpooling, walking, etc?

​Yes! I have bought my own bicycle so that I can easily travel to my local stores. Recently, I have the responsibility of buying grocery items for my parents to make dinner so having a bike makes it 10 times more faster to get to my destination and 10 times more fun.

What was your reaction when you found out you won the contest?

​It was actually two months after I found out that I won the contest. I wish I found out sooner because I was traveling with my parents over the summer outside of America, so my phone was practically dead. Having to find out now is pretty exciting and gave me butterflies in my stomach.

What do you hope will come out of your artwork being up on a billboard for people to see?

​I hope that the next time they drive by my billboard, they would’ve use their bikes or scooters instead for the next time they wanna go out. Riding your bike is a totally different experience than just driving your car.

Anything else you’d like to share.

​The last thing I wanted to share is, I hope my local government makes more sidewalks or bike lanes for bikers like me that can travel more openly and safer for me to travel. As much as I want to make a good decision on riding my bike instead of driving, I cannot take full advantage of riding my bike to father destinations if there is no extended sidewalks for me to go. If they’re more sidewalks, I my prediction will be that more people will be willing to walk or use their scooters then traveling with cars.

What was your reaction when you found out you won the contest?

​It was actually two months after I found out that I won the contest. I wish I found out sooner because I was traveling with my parents over the summer outside of America, so my phone was practically dead. Having to find out now is pretty exciting and gave me butterflies in my stomach.

Anything else you’d like to share.

​The last thing I wanted to share is, I hope my local government makes more sidewalks or bike lanes for bikers like me that can travel more openly and safer for me to travel. As much as I want to make a good decision on riding my bike instead of driving, I cannot take full advantage of riding my bike to father destinations if there is no extended sidewalks for me to go. If they’re more sidewalks, I my prediction will be that more people will be willing to walk or use their scooters then traveling with cars.

Thank you to all you participated in the 2022 Student Art Contest!

Getting North Carolina Ready for Electric Vehicle Charging

Electrification of transportation is exciting and challenging. Market forces are already pushing us in the direction of electric vehicles (EV), but our electric “refueling” infrastructure is lagging. Public and private investments are being made and more are coming in the form of grants, incentives, and substantial federal investments. In North Carolina alone, VW Settlement funds will bring ~$10 million this year.  And the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) National EV infrastructure program (NEVI) will invest more than $109 million each year over the next five years in North Carolina.  

Now, our challenge here in North Carolina is to prepare for this influx of funding, to ensure we are ready for it, and that we use it effectively and efficiently. This guidance document helps the reader understand how to get ready and where to find detailed guides for different aspects of building the new EV charging infrastructure.  

There are many many “guides” already published, so we sorted through them to find the best and give pointers to them all. Now, you can easily find the best resources for you in our guide to the guides: Getting North Carolina Ready for Electric Vehicle Charging. We encourage local government planners, managers, fleet officers, and finance & purchasing administrators to be aware of this “guide to the guides.”

Let’s get ready!

What You’ll Find in The Guide

Getting North Carolina Ready for Electric Vehicle Charging covers:

  • Charging for homeowners
  • Charging for renters (apartment, townhome and condo dwellers)
  • Charging at work
  • The state of EV charger deployment in North Carolina
  • Locally-sourced North Carolina EV charging guides
  • Links to several valuable guides from organizations like:

    • The U.S. Department of Transportation
    • The Cadmus Group (in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Transportation)
    • Advanced Energy
    • Plug-In NC 
    • The City of Raleigh
    • Sourcewell
    • NC Department of Administration
    • North Carolina Sheriff’s Association 

>> Click here to view the full guidance document.

Eastern Band of Cherokee Adding Four All-Electric School Buses thanks to US EPA DERA Grant Funds

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) are leading the way with cleaner student transportation in North Carolina.  Following their groundbreaking award of VW Settlement funds for a new electric school bus last year, this year EBCI received notice from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of an award for 4 additional electric school buses.  EBCI will be replacing 5 diesel school buses with 4 new electric buses in collaboration with the Cherokee Boys Club (CBC) and the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC).  This latest award marks The Eastern Band as the first tribe east of the Mississippi to be awarded grant funding through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) Program administered by the EPA.

To assist EBCI in writing their grant, NCCETC staff provided emissions quantifications to examine the potential reduction in air pollution from the retirement of older polluting buses, and the deployment of new zero-emission electric school buses.  NCCETC also assisted EBCI in teaming with Duke Energy, a crucial funding partner who is supporting this project in partial fulfillment of their Electric Transportation Pilot.  Long-term, NCCETC will be providing ongoing technical support to EBCI and CBC’s transportation division, which operates the bus system for Cherokee Central Schools on the Qualla Boundary.

“We’re really excited to be able to support EBCI and CBC staff through the entire process of retiring the old diesel buses and getting the new electric buses onto the road,” said John Bonitz, Clean Transportation Specialist at NCCETC. “The EPA has a very detailed process for scrapping old buses that has to be completed within 90 days of receipt of the new buses – afterall, we all want to remove these polluting vehicles from the road permanently.”

NCCETC will guide EBCI and the CBC transportation division through the disabling and scrapping process and will assist in properly documenting the operation.  Additionally, NCCETC will draft quarterly reports for the entire project period, quantifying the emissions reductions for the electric school buses and analyzing the total project cost effectiveness as well as gallons of diesel fuel saved.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have a long tradition of stewardship and the EBCI Natural Resources Department (ECBI NRD) is committed to protecting and preserving natural resources for generations to come. For example, for nearly a decade, the CBC has been making biodiesel from waste fryer oil and using that fuel to displace petroleum diesel.  Since 2012 CBC’s school buses run on a B20 blend (20 percent biodiesel, 80 percent diesel) with their own locally made biodiesel.  Also, the EBCI Air Quality Program (AQP) helps monitor air conditions in order to maintain clean and healthy air quality for EBCI lands and the surrounding area.  The Cherokee Boys Club works with the EBCI AQP to achieve ambient air pollution reduction and environmental protection.  As a rural community, mobile emissions from vehicles and buses are a major focus point for EBCI to help reduce the harmful impacts of diesel emissions.  The primary contributor of NOx on EBCI lands are mobile sources (93 percent), according to EBCI NRD.

Another benefit from the replacement of old buses is the reduction of fine particulates from diesel exhaust that scatters sunlight and creates the haze that obscures mountain vistas on EBCI lands. “This improvement in visibility will help our tourism industry and increase our visitor experience,” explains EBCI NRD.

EBCI added its first electric bus to its fleet in 2021 after being awarded grant funds from the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Diesel Bus and Vehicle Programs, which was a part of Phase 1 of the Volkswagen Mitigation Plan. EBCI was the first organization in North Carolina to receive an electric school bus from the state’s VW Mitigation Plan along with charging infrastructure to power the vehicle.

“Diesel school buses drive through every neighborhood, every week, to transport Cherokee Central School students,” Bonitz said.  The four all-electric Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley buses funded by the grant have zero tailpipe emissions, and emissions reduced through the retirement of diesel buses in the EBCI communities will especially improve local air quality on neighborhood streets, heavily trafficked roads, and on school campuses.

On top of the harmful effects to public health caused by diesel exhaust, emissions from diesel engines also contribute to ground-level ozone, which damages crops, trees and other vegetation.  DERA supports environmental justice by prioritizing emissions reductions in areas receiving disproportionate impacts from diesel fleets to provide an environment where all people enjoy the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards.

The DERA Program was originally created under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which gave the EPA new grant and loan authority for promoting diesel emissions reductions.  DERA was reauthorized in 2020 and includes up to $100 million annually in award grants and rebates to achieve diesel emissions reductions through 2024.  According to the EPA, there are nearly ten million old diesel engines currently still in use in the United States that commit large amounts of carbon emissions, which contribute to serious public health problems, including asthma, lung disease and various other cardiac and respiratory diseases.

Electric buses have already shown lower operational costs throughout the country due to reduced fuel expenses, eliminated fluid changes, and fewer mechanical parts.  School children, however, can benefit from the reduced noise and vibrations electric school buses cause, making the ride more pleasant for the whole community.

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