CARB kicks off loan program for clean off-road equipment

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Updated May 21, 2011

The California Air Resources Board last week handed the keys for a cleaner-running piece of machinery to a small-business owner to kick off a new loan program to help other small businesses in California purchase cleaner off-road equipment. The loan assistance program, a joint program between CARB and the State Treasurer’s Office of California Capital Access Program, or CalCAP, uses federal money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and also can draw on funding from local air districts.

“CARB’s loan guarantee program, now expanded to include off-road equipment, is not only for the construction business, but also for agriculture, mining and industrial sectors of the California diesel fleets,” says Assistant Division Chief Erik White. “Some of the fleets may also be able to combine the loan program with local grants to help them with the purchase of cleaner equipment. Owners of off-road vehicles are driving away with more modern cleaner-running equipment, and Californians are getting the public health benefit of cleaner air to breathe.”

With the help of the loan program and a grant from the Placer County Air Pollution Control District, Amanda Godon of Volcano Enterprises Inc., a small California-based logging business, replaced an older engine with a cleaner Tier 3 engine. “The process of getting the financing for the replacement skidder was fast and simple,” says Godon. “Clean air is very important, and we are trying to replace our whole fleet with better air quality in mind.”

AARA provided $5 million to the loan assistance program to reduce diesel emissions by helping off-road vehicle owners upgrade or replace their older vehicles. The program provides competitive-rate loan opportunities in today’s tight credit market to small businesses. Off-road fleets of any size may qualify if they are small businesses with 500 or fewer employees and have annual revenues and business generated primarily in California, with the majority of the employees living in California.

“This program is an excellent example of local, state and federal governments working harmoniously to solve our most pressing air pollution problems,” says Ben Machol, chief of the Clean Energy and Climate Change Office at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Pacific Southwest Region. “We are proud to contribute federal Recovery Act funding to help improve public health while strengthening the local economy.”

Off-road equipment owners can apply for loans at participating financial institutions to finance new vehicles, engine exhaust retrofits or engine upgrades. Projected installation and extended warranty expenses, or maintenance costs for exhaust retrofits, also may be financed. For a list of participating financial institutions, go to www.treasurer.ca.gov/cpcfa/calcap/contributor/offroad_lenders.pdf. Borrowers, like the owners of Volcano Enterprises Inc., also may be eligible for local grant awards that can be combined with a CalCAP loan to purchase cleaner equipment.

CARB’s loan assistance programs are part of the state’s overall plan to cut toxic diesel emissions 85 percent by 2020. In December, CARB adopted a statewide clean off-road diesel vehicle regulation to bring California closer to meeting federally-mandated air-quality standards and deadlines. For additional program information about the loan assistance program, air quality grants or the off-road diesel vehicle regulation, go to www.arb.ca.gov or call CARB’s diesel hotline at 1-866-6DIESEL (1-866-634-3735).