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Virginia will spend $14 million from their VW settlement money ($94 million) to transition to electric transit buses.

Virginia will spend $14 million from their VW settlement money ($94 million) to transition to electric transit buses.

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VA USING DIESELGATE SETTLEMENT TO INVEST IN ELECTRIC BUS DEVELOPMENT

From the Governor’s October 31, 2018 news release (emphasis added):

“Governor Ralph Northam today announced that the Commonwealth of Virginia will invest $14 million, or 15 percent, of the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust to fund the deployment of all-electric transit buses across Virginia. Governor Northam made the announcement during remarks at the Governor’s Transportation Conference and Innovation Summit in Norfolk today.”

“The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), designated lead agency acting on the state’s behalf to implement Virginia’s allocation ($93.6 million) from the settlement, will provide funding through a new Clean Transportation Voucher Program to replace heavy and medium-duty polluting vehicles with cleaner vehicles. The project will be submitted through the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation’s annual public transportation capital grant cycle known as MERIT (Making Efficient and Responsible Investments in Transit), which begins December 1, 2018, and runs through February 1, 2019.

“Earlier this year, the electric vehicle charging station company EVgo was awarded a contract to develop a statewide public electric vehicle charging network. Together, these two funding announcements account for 30 percent of Virginia’s total allocation from the settlement, a significant investment in the transition toward electric transportation and cleaner air.”

“While electric vehicles have no tailpipe emissions, their carbon footprint is dependent on the electricity grid that charges them. On average, electric vehicles in Virginia produce 70 percent fewer carbon emissions than their gasoline-powered counterparts, according to data from the U.S. Department of Energy. A study earlier this year by the Union of Concerned Scientists rated Virginia as one of the best places for electric buses based on carbon pollution. Diesel buses emit 200-300 percent more carbon pollution than electric buses in Virginia.”

This fall, U.S. PRIG released a report that recommended transit agencies and school transportation officials move their fleet into electric vehicles. According to PIRG, the “lifetime fuel and maintenance savings of electric school buses are around $170,000,” or $230,000 compared to $400,000 for diesel buses. EV buses command $120,000 for purchase more than diesel buses, but there’s a net saving in government expenditure over time. That doesn’t even account for the environmental cost differences. Duke University expects to save almost $1 million by replacing two of their diesel buses with EV buses. That’s out of a 24 vehicle fleet.

The difference in lifetime savings estimates raises questions about the methodology for these studies. However, assumptions like operational lifespan and accounting for reduced environmental damage can double or triple savings. Like with an EV car, the purchase price is higher—on the order of 10 to 20 percent—but the cost saving arrives over many years, and probably a decade or two with these buses.

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