May 4, 2020 – Clean Energy Economy for the Region has been tapped to run a statewide program that helps businesses reduce their diesel exhaust emissions by upgrading to newer, more efficient equipment.
CLEER announced today that it has been awarded the 2020 contract to administer the Colorado Clean Diesel Program. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which awarded the contract in a competitive process, previously ran the program in-house.
While CLEER works mainly on advancing clean energy in Garfield County and the surrounding area, it has a track record of piloting local programs that go on to be expanded statewide. It helped obtain the initial federal funding for what is now ReCharge Colorado, which promotes electric vehicle adoption, and it launched a program to help low-income residents in Garfield County that has grown into Colorado’s Affordable Residential Energy Program (CARE).
The Clean Diesel Program makes grants to businesses to help defray the cost of upgrading or replacing diesel engines. CDPHE focused on retrofitting school buses when it ran the program, but in its contract with CLEER it’s shifting the priority to heavy equipment. The 2020 program will consider options ranging from simple exhaust controls and idle-reduction devices to more cutting-edge new technologies like zero-emissions trucking refrigeration units.
While the program has a modest annual budget of under $1 million, it leverages the funds to demonstrate the feasibility of cleaner diesel technologies, says CLEER transportation program coordinator Stefan Johnson.
“These grants to early adopters prime the pump of the market,” says Johnson. “They create demand by showing other businesses that these technologies work just as well or better, while producing less pollution. And that encourages the manufacturers of these technologies to scale up, which lowers prices.”
The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Energy, as allocated under the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act.
Diesel engines are the workhorses of many industries, but their emissions are one of the largest contributors to environmental pollution and health problems worldwide, according to the CDPHE. Diesel exhaust contains as many as 15 cancer-causing chemicals, as well as fine particulates and other gases that impact respiratory health. Children, the elderly and those with existing health conditions are particularly susceptible, as are the operators of diesel machinery.
Diesel engines can operate for 30 years or more, so many that are still in service predate modern EPA regulations. Johnson says replacing just one large industrial engine with a newer, cleaner-burning model can reduce emissions by as much as taking thousands of cars off the road.
CLEER will publish eligibility requirements for the Clean Diesel Program in early summer. Businesses will be able to apply for rebates in two cycles later in the year.