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Penn State Awarded $3.3M for Electric Vehicles and Infrastructure

Penn State will receive $3.3 million from a state grant program aimed at replacing diesel fleets with zero-emissions vehicles, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced on Wednesday.

The university will use the money to replace five Class 6 and Class 7 box trucks with battery electric vehicles and to install four DC fast electric vehicle chargers and one Level 2 electric vehicle charging plug at three locations across Penn State’s campus.

Funding was awarded from the Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero Emission Vehicle (MHD-ZEV) Fleet Pilot Grant Program, part of the Driving PA Forward initiative to reduce emissions from diesel engines.

“I am excited to announce this multi-million grant award to help support Penn State’s efforts to transition to electric vehicles in order to reduce their impact on the environment, while also saving money,” state Rep. Paul Takac, D-College Township, said in a statement. “Sustainability and environmental responsibility are critical to the future of our Commonwealth and our world. As Pennsylvania’s land grant institution, Penn State’s commitment and leadership on this issue are critically important.”

The MHD-ZEV program focused on “projects located in underserved and disproportionately impacted communities,” for the current funding round, according to the DEP.

“Rural areas cover 97% of the country’s land and with the lack of EV charging stations in rural Pennsylvania, it poses a barrier for rural Pennsylvanians and travelers with EVs,” state Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Rush Township, said in a statement. “Through this funding, we will address this barrier by building up infrastructure at one of Pennsylvania’s largest universities.

“More so, by transitioning Penn State’s fleet to EVs, we help decrease emissions in Centre County, making Pennsylvania’s fleets closer to achieving zero emissions.”

Statewide, the DEP awarded 16 applicants a total of $39.6 million from the grant program, which is funded by the Environmental Mitigation Trust Agreement for State Beneficiaries established through a Clean Air Act settlement with Volkswagen.

Projects include replacement of delivery trucks, refuse/recycling trucks and terminal tractors, as well as installing supporting charging infrastructure. 

“Clean air is crucial in ensuring a healthy environment,” DEP Interim Acting Secretary Jessica Shirley said in a statement. “That’s why we see it as our mission to address one of the most significant air quality challenges facing our Commonwealth—emissions from transportation. These recommendations mark the highest-dollar awards in any round, for any Driving PA Forward Initiative funding program, showing a step forward in Pennsylvania’s effort in reducing these emissions by getting more clean trucks on the road in the communities that need them.”