The state is less than a week away from submitting its plan on what to do with $40 million from the Volkswagen emissions settlement. The money will go to help offset the damage done by the company’s violation of the Clean Air Act.
Under part of this plan, companies would submit proposals to replace their old diesel engines in trucks and buses. If they choose an electric engine or vehicle, the VW fund would reimburse them up to 75 percent. They could also choose to get reimbursed up to 40 percent for a new diesel or propane engine.
But Martin Sennett, general manager at the Greater Lafayette Public Transportation Corporation, says even if it was 75 percent off, electric buses cost nearly $1 million each.
“If you really want to move the needle of getting cleaner vehicles on the road — for every one electric you can get two CNG [compressed natural gas],” says Sennett.
Sennett says because Indiana gets most of its electricity from coal, that's also what would power these electric vehicles. But Janet McCabe of Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute says the state is slowly moving away from coal.
Companies also don’t have to choose electric, with the exception of the 6 percent carved out for electric school buses. McCabe says that’s a small amount to pay in a plan that is supposed to prioritize “transformative” technologies like electric.
The current draft of the plan also allocates 6 percent more funding to dollars that can be matched through the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) — a federal clean diesel grant, rebate, and loan program.
The state expects to submit its mitigation plan on Oct. 31.
Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.