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Grand Rapids getting 12 new eco-friendly vehicles thanks to grant

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Posted at 11:36 AM, Nov 17, 2021

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids expects to reduce city-generated greenhouse gases by as much as 91.5 metric tons thanks to a grant that will allow for some of its fleets to be replaced with new diesel and compressed natural gas vehicles.

The City Commission accepted the $1.441 million grant award Tuesday from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy Fuel Transformation Program and Volkswagen State Mitigation Trust.

It’ll allow the Facilities and Fleet Management Department to replace 12 vehicles, helping the city reduce diesel emissions, nitrogen oxide, particulate matter and improve air quality in Grand Rapids.

The expected annual reduction of 91.5 metric tons of greenhouse gases is equivalent to removing 19.9 passenger vehicles from service, according to a news release from the city.

By Fall 2023, six pre-2008 diesel dump trucks with underbody scrapers will be replaced with six new, more efficient diesel dump trucks; two diesel broom-type right-side sweepers will be replaced with a CNG sweeper and a hybrid electric/CNG sweeper; and four diesel refuse trucks will be replaced with four CNG refuse trucks.

Per grant requirement, all vehicles replaced will need to be decommissioned and destroyed to a point where each can never be put back into operations again.

All these older vehicles were scheduled to be replaced as part of the city’s current asset management plan.

With the new purchases, the city’s eco-friendly fleet will include seven electric, six hybrid/electric, 77 hybrid/gas and nine CNG vehicles.

Back in September, the City Commission passed a resolution “Declaring Climate Change a Crisis,” which outlines a goal to power all municipal operations with 85% renewable energy by 2030 and net zero by 2040.

“Air pollution from diesel emissions has negative effects on human health and the environment,” said Annabelle Wilkinson, environmental and climate justice specialist. “Diesel emissions can impact respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological systems. It also harms wildlife and environment by contributing to the formation of smog, acid rain and ground level ozone, which can cause considerable damage to plants, agricultural crops, animals, habitat and ecosystems.”

Kent County is one of 10 counties in Michigan designated by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services as high asthma burden areas.

Grand Rapids’ Facilities and Fleet Management Department has tracked the emissions from its operations since 2008 and is in the final stages of the creation of its first emissions reduction goals for its operations.

In 2020, the city’s fleet fuel consumption accounted for 11% of the total emissions for municipal operations.

Emissions from the city’s fleet were the second-largest emissions source in 2020, with electricity being the largest source.

Diesel, gasoline and CNG accounted for 56%, 38% and 6% of the total emissions from the city fleet, respectively.

“The new, more efficient diesel vehicles will reduce fuel consumption and emissions,” said Steve Prins, acting direction of facilities and fleet management. “The newer diesel emission equipped dump/plow trucks will reduce diesel particulates and nitrogen oxide emissions released into the atmosphere by up to 98% over the older diesel vehicles. These, along with the new CNG refuse trucks and hybrid sweeper, will help reduce the city’s carbon footprint, improve air quality and mitigate climate change. We believe that this grant will help us achieve our sustainability goals and improve the wellbeing of our residents.”

The grant covers about 40% of the cost of the new vehicles and requires a match not to exceed just under $2.3 million, paid by the city’s Motor Equipment Fund.