The Volkswagen (VW) Settlement funds are the largest tranche of money available for electric and clean technology for New Hampshire in a long time. New Hampshire has lagged behind its surrounding states in electric vehicle (EV) sales and infrastructure deployment, and this money could allow us to close the gap.
Plugshare.com notes New Hampshire currently has three Tesla Supercharger locations: Hooksett, Seabrook, Lincoln. New Hampshire also has four Combo Charging System (CCS) and Chademo locations: Salem, Nashua mall, Nashua dealership, and Lancaster. With fast charge stations needed every sixty miles or so (like those in surrounding states), and wanted every 30 miles, there are big gaps in New Hampshire’s coverage (NH being a donut hole in New England’s coverage).
There are two funds available from the VW settlement, Appendix C and Appendix D. Appendix C money was given to VW’s Electrify America to distribute to key metropolitan areas around the country for focused infrastructure (charging station) deployment. Boston was selected as one of those key areas. Hopefully, NH could receive some benefit from those funds as part of the greater Boston metro area. For instance, NH could receive funding for fast-charge stations in Seabrook (near I95), or along I93 and I89. Massachusetts (as a selected area) is well along in their deployment of these funds. No ready, practical plans are set for NH yet.
Appendix D (run by VW’s Mitigation Trust) offers another pot of money. Most of this money is for newer, cleaner vehicles, some is for EV charging infrastructure. NH’s VW Appendix D plan was approved in mid-October 2018. NH has ten years to spend this money. All expenditures must be acceptable to the Governor’s Executive Council. NH’s Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI) is the lead agency appointed by the governor, assisted by the Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Environmental Services (DES), and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).
Approximately $31M is available to NH from the Mitigation Trust; about 10-15% for administration and compliance responsibilities, leaving about $28M for acquisition projects; $15.M for newer, cleaner trucks, $4.6M for charge station infrastructure, $6.2M for public proposals. Also note, the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) funding was recently increased in NH to help co-fund Mitigation Trust truck spending.
I talked to Tim White of NH DES who is the point man in DES for helping OSI analyze and recommend options for use of funds. White was most helpful and provided more information than I have room (or memory) to write. But, basically, the funds for Truck acquisition is on a fast track. Diesel and Alt-fuel RFPs are out and proposals are being submitted. About half of NH’s $31M will be spent on newer diesel trucks ($15.5M). Some will go to propane and natural gas trucks. This RFP was first to go out, and the deadline for submission is the end of June. Eighteen projects by eight entities are being considered. But there is hope, OSI just announced an RFP for electric school buses, responses by July 26th! First funding is to be spent this year and in 2020.
The $4.6M infrastructure (charge stations) funds are on a much slower track. The Governor/OSI wants to be very careful on these funds, so is still studying how to spend the money. There are various NH organizations tasked with offering advice for infrastructure deployment: NH DES, Northeast Corridors transportation group (coordinating with surrounding states), the NH Senate SR 517 Commission, and a new study request to NH BEA/ Plug In America. All will likely recommend the same thing: spend first and most on fast charge infrastructure scattered around the state. Meanwhile, there are no RFPs open for submission, nor timeline yet for issuing RFPs, therefore, no actionable plans for infrastructure yet. Again, offering hope, NH’s three top utilities just announced a plan to propose charge stations at up to twelve locations around NH. The link to SB 517 Commission is http://bit.ly/NH-SB-517.
In one recent national study (US PIRG, http://bit.ly/VW-PIRG-study), states were graded on how well the VW money is being used to leverage the state into Clean/Electric solutions. This study gave NH a ‘D’. But the grade may not be entirely fair. The intent of VW Funds is to reduce NOX/SOX emissions. NH notes that new diesel trucks are cleaner than older diesels, and Natural Gas-Propane are cleaner still. However, EV technology is the best and most aggressive path.
The reason for a ‘D’ is quite clear. NH government was rather quick on spending the largest chunk of money for combustion vehicles, no electrics. A much slower path was chosen for electric charge stations, but at least the full 15% of Mitigation Trust funds are set aside for infrastructure. Our surrounding states are much farther along in their VW installation plans.
As author’s opinion, this pattern is not new and speaks for itself. But, due to the just released e-bus RFP and utilities’ charging proposal, I would boost NH’s grade to C. Maybe the donut hole is filling in.
Enjoy your summer! Ride in an EV.
Randy Bryan is one of the co-founders of Drive Electric NH. Bryan has been an advocate for electric cars for eight-plus years. His company, ConVerdant Vehicles, has converted vehicles to plug-in hybrids, including his own Prius in 2008, and developed and sold inverters that turn a Prius into an emergency generator.