The State of Ohio is close to announcing a new Diesel Emission Reduction Grant program.

In 2006 the Ohio Legislature adopted Section 122.861 of the Ohio Revised Code, relating to the creation of a Diesel Emissions Grant Fund and a diesel emissions revolving loan fund, to implement in the State of Ohio Section 793 of the federal statute known as the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Energy Policy Act). R.C. Section 122.861 creates a Diesel Emissions Grant Fund for the deposit of any federal grant moneys received under Section 793 of the Energy Policy Act, any moneys appropriated for the fund purposes by the General Assembly and any gifts to or other income of that fund.

In Am. Sub. H.B. 119, passed by the General Assembly this year, the General Assembly appropriated $9,817,105 of the Highway Operating Fund to be deposited in the Diesel Emissions Grant Fund on July 1, 2007, and $10, 057,814 to be deposited in that fund on July 1, 2008. Under R.C. Section 122.861 and Am. Sub. H.B. 119 these funds are to be used in their respective fiscal years for the reduction of emissions from diesel engines and to fund projects involving the purchase or use of hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles allowed under guidance developed by the Federal Highway Administration for the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program. The reduction can be achieved by replacement, repowering and retrofitting of existing fleet equipment or by anti-idle equipment. Funded projects must be in nonattainment areas of the State.

Diesel emissions reduction grants are to be used for projects relating to certified engine configurations and verified technologies consistent with Section 793. Examples of public fleet equipment eligible for grant-funded improvement are school buses, mass transit, trash trucks and government fleets. Examples of private fleet equipment eligible for grant-funded improvement (with a public sponsor) are long- and short-haul trucks, nonroad vehicles or construction equipment working on a surface transportation construction project within an Ohio nonattainment or maintenance area, and switcher locomotives. The maximum grant to any one proposal is expected to be $1,000,000. The minimum request is expected to be $20,000. The grants will be for up to 80 percent of the project cost, with a minimum 20 percent contribution by the applying entity.

Clients should be on the alert for the announcement in the next month or so of the application process for these grants. It would be wise to begin thinking of eligible projects now – the first round of grant applications will be due in the near future. There is expected to be a 45-day period between the official announcement and the due date of applications. Not all eligible projects will be funded.