Florida, Virginia Tap VW Funds for Clean Tech Investmentseditor@aashto.org July 17, 2020 0 COMMENTS
Both Florida and Virginia are tapping their respective share of Volkswagen (VW) Settlement funds to make “clean technology” investments, including electric vehicle (EV) recharging infrastructure, zero-emission all-electric port cargo handling equipment, and the purchase of all-electric vehicles for state government fleet use.
[Above photo by the Florida Department of Management Services.]
Florida plans to invest $8.6 million to strengthen its electric vehicle or EV infrastructure – part of $166 million worth of funds coming to the state from the VW Mitigation Trust Fund established in 2017 established between VW and the U.S. government to resolve claims that the automaker violated the Clean Air Act by knowingly selling diesel-powered vehicles that did not meet Environmental Protection Agency mobile source emission standards.
“This long-term investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure is a win for our state on multiple levels,” noted Governor Ron DeSantis (R) in a statement. “Not only will these charging stations promote reduced emissions and better air quality, they will also improve mobility and safety for the ever-increasing number of Floridians that drive electric cars.”
“The addition of these electric vehicle charging stations will not only keep pace with the dramatic increase in the use of these vehicles, but also help to reduce emissions and improve mobility across Florida’s transportation system,” added Kevin Thibault, secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation.
That $8.6 million will go towards installing 74 additional direct current or DC “fast chargers” statewide. Combined with the chargers Florida DOT is currently installing along the Florida Turnpike, a total of 104 DC fast chargers will be installed along over 1,200 miles of highway, covering the most traveled corridors in the state – an approximately 50 percent statewide increase in publicly available DC charging stations.
Governor DeSantis’ office added that a total of $25 million from Florida’s VW settlement funds has been set aside specifically to install EV charging stations and that approximately $16.4 million dollar remains to install more charging stations throughout the state.
Meanwhile, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) plans to use $14 million from its $93.6 million share of VW Settlement funds to install zero-emission all-electric cargo handling equipment at the Port of Virginia, with a further $20 million to support statewide electrification of government fleets.
“With this initiative, we will electrify operations at the Port of Virginia and drive the much-needed transition to clean transportation across our Commonwealth,” he explained in a statement. “Together, these projects show how we can make critical investments in the health and wellbeing of all Virginians while advancing our commitment to a clean energy future.”
“At every opportunity, we are looking for innovative ways to build environmental stewardship into transportation infrastructure development across the Commonwealth,” added Shannon Valentine, the state’s secretary of transportation. “This partnership is a sound investment in the Port of Virginia, our environment, and the economic future of all Virginians.”
This is the fourth funding allocation that Virginia has made from its VW settlement funds. Last year, roughly $20 million from the settlement funded an electric school bus initiative and $14 million went to supporting the deployment of electric transit buses. In 2018, the Governor allocated $14 million to develop Virginia’s electric vehicle charging network.