OTA welcomes Ontario’s Green Commercial Vehicle Program

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The Ontario Trucking Association on Monday, Nov. 3, called a provincial government announcement that it is introducing a four-year C$15 million grant program designed to assist operators of commercial vehicles in the battle against climate change by investing in fuel-saving technologies “a good first step that is consistent with the industry’s enviroTruck initiative.”

Under the plan, Ontario trucking companies will be able to apply for grants toward the purchase of anti-idling devices such as auxiliary power units (APUs) or in-cab heater technologies and hybrid or alternative energy vehicles. Companies will have to collect data on the fuel savings from the green technologies as part of a longer-term effort to reduce GHG emissions.

Applications for the program will be available Nov. 28, and the program is retroactive to August 2007, the launch date of the McGuinty government’s Go Green Action Plan that includes ambitious targets for greenhouse gas reductions by the freight transportation sector. “Helping big and small companies to operate greener, more fuel-efficient vehicles will help us all breathe a little easier,” says Transportation Minister Jim Bradley.

OTA has been working with the province for the past year in developing the program. “The current economic times make it tough for the industry to make capital investments,” says David Bradley, OTA president. “Through the Canadian Trucking Alliance’s enviroTruck program, we have been calling upon both the federal and provincial governments to provide incentives to accelerate the penetration of proven fuel-saving technologies and devices into the marketplace. While the Green Commercial Vehicle Program is modest in terms of the overall grants available to the industry, it is a good start and something we can build upon. While we have yet to see all of the details, we think MTO is taking the right approach.”

The purchase cost of the technology ranges from C$8,000 to C$10,000 per unit. OTA says that a previous federal APU rebate program — which ran from August 2003 to March 2006 — showed that these sorts of incentive programs can work. Under that program, the federal government invested less than C$6 million in APU rebates of up to 20 percent of the purchase price. In return, the industry invested about C$30 million, representing the purchase of more than 13,000 auxiliary heating/cooling systems.

OTA continues to pursue other elements of the enviroTruck initiative – weight allowances for wide-base single tires that are equivalent to conventional duals, an accommodation in the dimensional regulations for tractor and trailer aerodynamic enhancements, and longer combination vehicles. “There is a lot the trucking industry can and is doing to reduce its carbon footprint,” Bradley says. “Our economic goals are more aligned with society’s environmental goals than ever before, so we welcome cooperative initiatives with government.”