Don’t look now, but the Trump administration is doling out money for developing alternative fuel vehicles for mass transport.
This week, the Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) announced that it would be awarding more than $13 million to projects that create alternative energy transport systems that can be used and promoted for community needs. The money will support five cost-shared community-based systems capable of developing “energy efficient mobility systems” such as “connected and autonomous vehicles … alternative fuel vehicles and infrastructure including natural gas, propane, biofuels, hydrogen, and electricity.”
Recipients of the funding are wide-ranging and include Seattle’s Department of Transportation, which is investigating the use of EV vehicles; Austin-based Pecan Street, Inc., which researches alternative forms of transportation; and Kansas-based Metropolitan Energy Center, which is focusing on the infrastructure and requirements for alternative fuel vehicles in Missouri, Kansas and Colorado.
Alternative energy transportation may seem like an unlikely topic for an administration that has gone to the mat to oppose many of the environmental strategies of the former Obama administration (including his latest decision to re-review vehicle standards that would potentially cut back on carbon emissions ).
But encouraging the development of alternative energy technologies is actually the VTO’s mandate. Last year it approved $18 million to support the development of plug-in technologies. Recipients included Odyne Systems, LLC in Pewaukee, WI, which is developing hybrid work trucks, and Blue Bird Body Co. in Fort Valley, GA, which specializes in the supply of school buses. The $4.9 million went toward developing a battery powered system that would reduce energy efficiency and could connect with the grid.
This year’s recipients include projects that link clean city coalitions and communities with businesses that have the know-how to develop both EV fleets and the necessary infrastructure to expand their use.