DOE awards $300M in Clean Cities grants

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The U.S. Department of Energy last week announced the selection of 25 cost-share projects under the Clean Cities program that will be funded with nearly $300 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. These projects will speed the transformation of the nation’s vehicle fleet, putting more than 9,000 alternative-fuel and energy-efficient vehicles on the road, and establishing 542 refueling locations across the country. The Department of Energy also estimates they will help displace about 38 million gallons of petroleum per year.

“The Clean Cities program is helping give state and local governments the tools they need to build a greener transportation system that will create new jobs and help to put America on the path to a clean energy future,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “Advancing the number of alternative-fuel and advanced-technology vehicles on the road will increase our energy security, decrease our dependence on oil, and reduce pollution across the country.”

Clean Cities is a government-industry partnership that works to reduce America’s petroleum consumption in the transportation sector. Under the Recovery Act, the Clean Cities program will fund a range of energy-efficient and advanced vehicle technologies, such as hybrids, electric vehicles, plug-in electric hybrids, hydraulic hybrids and compressed natural gas vehicles, helping reduce petroleum consumption across the United States. In addition, funding will support refueling infrastructure for various alternative-fuel vehicles, including biofuels and natural gas. Other efforts under the Clean Cities program include public education and training initiatives to further the program’s goal of reducing the national demand for petroleum.

The projects will support a combined total of more than 9,000 light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles and establish 542 refueling locations across the country. The vehicles and infrastructure being funded include the use of natural and renewable gas, propane, ethanol, biodiesel, electricity and hybrid technologies. And with the cost-share contributions from the recipients, every federal dollar spent will be matched by nearly $2 from the project partners.

Daimler Trucks North America says it will participate in at least seven program awards representing $32.9 million in funding to be applied toward the purchase and support of 638 hybrid and alternative-fuel vehicles by several leading national fleet operators. Daimler’s range of participation and deployment of vehicle technologies is expected to increase as selected Clean Cities programs — including those involving ports, municipal and school bus fleets — use funds toward vehicle purchases.

“This award is important to our company on several levels,” says Roger Nielsen, DTNA chief operating officer. “It validates the efforts of our employees in their development of viable advanced-technology and alternative-fuel vehicles for the sustainable future of our customers. And it recognizes the vision of Daimler’s leadership in creating ‘green’ jobs and opportunities for contributing to cleaner air and healthier communities.”

Working with its customers and dealers, DTNA helped to spearhead the submittal of these winning applications, which represent nearly $100 million in project value, including more than $84 million in vehicle costs and about $14 million in alternative-fuel refueling infrastructure across the United States. The projects call for the deployment of multiple commercially available advanced and alternative-fuel products offered by the company under its Freightliner and Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. lines, including hybrid-electric, hybrid-hydraulic, CNG and LNG trucks and tractors.

The DOE funding will be used to support the manufacture and sale of Freightliner Business Class M2e 106 hybrid-electric trucks and tractors, Freightliner Business Class M2 112 LNG tractors, Freightliner Business Class M2 112 CNG trucks and tractors, FCCC hybrid-electric walk-in vans, FCCC hydraulic-hybrid walk-in vans and FCCC CNG walk-in vans. DTNA says DOE support for its customers includes funding for what will result in some of the nation’s single largest heavy-duty alternative-fuel deployment efforts to date.

“DOE’s support underscores our customers’ acceptance and preference for Daimler clean-drive technologies, including the Freightliner and FCCC CNG, LNG and hybrid vehicles,” says Mark Lampert, DTNA senior vice president of sales. “This exemplifies the value of a long line of Daimler technologies that deliver customer value, fuel efficiency and cleaner air — offering a win-win opportunity for everyone. Having experience in projects where clean air initiatives meet national and regional customer needs for cost-effective transportation, we saw tremendous opportunity here for Daimler leadership and Freightliner and FCCC hybrid and alternative fuel products. We are excited to have contributed to these successful applications for DOE funds and pleased to help our customers deploy advanced Freightliner technologies in their fleets. This will make a significant difference in their operations in terms of lower emissions, less use of foreign oil and a more sustainable approach to moving the goods that are critical to our economy.”