Too little too late? New grants for CARB upgrades

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I caught a news item over the Labor Day weekend about $7 million worth of new grant funding available from the San Joaquin Valley Air District to trucking businesses located in the large swath of territory in Central/Southern California within the air district’s borders (see rough map below). Priority is being given in distributing the new monies, which grant up to $50,000 for truck replacement and/or engine DPF retrofit, to single-truck owner-operator businesses. Sounds nice when you read the news story, but looking a little more closely at the application instructions and stipulations on the air district’s website, I’m reminded of my conversation last month with Joe Rajkovacz of the California Construction Trucking Association.

CARB Truck and Bus rule requirements:
**Pre-1994 engines: No requirements until 2015, then 2010 engine
**1994-1995: No requirements until 2016, then 2010 engine
**1996-1999: DPF from 2012 to 2020, then 2010 engine
**2000-2004: DPF from 2013 to 2021, then 2010 engine
**2005-2006: PM filter from 2014 to 2022, then 2010 engine
**2007-2009: No requirements until 2023, then 2010 engine
**2010: Meets final requirements

While Rajkovacz did note then that the state on the whole was “about to let go of $140 million in funds for truck replacement,” requirements under the San Joaquin Valley air district’s truck-voucher program would exclude most longer-haul owner-operators from potentially taking advantage of it to bring their operations into compliance with the powertrain regs by the end-of-year deadline for many rigs. (If you needed a reminder, as you can see from the sidebar above, all 1996-2006-model-year engines will need to be retrofitted with a DPF to be operated in California come the first of the year, as the small fleet exemption runs out.)

To be eligible for the funding, owner-operators must be based in the district and operate 75 percent within the state of California, 50 percent within the boundaries of the air district itself. 

Click this map for a CARB page where you can access each California air quality district’s website via links embedded in a map there.Click this map for a CARB page where you can access each California air quality district’s website via links embedded in a map there.

Those kinds of eligibility rules are likely one reason so much of the public grant assistance for engine DPF retrofits has been of the government-to-government-exchange variety to date, as Rajkovacz has noted (he estimated only 10 percent of DPF retrofit monies have gone to private businesses, for instance), the other being general objection to CARB rules, satisfaction with current engine performance, the cost of newer trucks (even offset by $50,000 worth of grant funding) and the many other reasons many single-truck fleets have chosen not to jump ahead of the regs to this point

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Also, says Rajkovacz, the new funds are coming just too late in the game. “Who three years ago would have taken a grant to retrofit a truck when it wasn’t required at the time?” he asks.

If your unit is going out of CARB compliance at the end of the year and you live in California and could potentially benefit from funding, you’ve got four short months to move on it. Rajkovacz adds, “Once a rule goes hardfast and you’re not in compliance, you can’t get grant funding to come into compliance.” 

Find the San Joaquin Valley Air District’s truck-voucher program here, and for links to other air districts’ websites, where information on any new funding opportunities will be found, follow this link to a statewide map with embedded links.

Stay tuned to for further CARB reporting upcoming in the following weeks.  

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