olarAuthor: Matthew Bearzotti Thu, Aug 09, 2018 8:11 am solardc@googlegroups.com

A quick word on a transportation and energy systems topic that’s been in the news a lot.

After getting busted for cheating U.S. emissions regulations, VW had to give $2.7 billion to a fund for the 50 states and D.C. The money is meant to be used to mitigate nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions, the main component in smog. In August, the District will receive $8 million. Here’s a snapshot of how they plan to spend it:

$2.3 million will go to replacing the engines of locomotive switcher cars at Union Station. These locomotives are work engines that help assemble lines of train cars at stations. They currently use old and dirty diesel technology. The Department of Energy and the Environment (DOEE) wants to repower these with either cleaner diesel engines or electric engines.

$5 million on both replacing diesel buses with electric buses, and on replacing diesel refuse trucks with either compressed natural gas (CNG) or electric trucks.

$200 thousand on tailpipe retrofits to reduce NOx.

As you can see, there are a couple of important “or”s in there; the plan creates some gray area around whether or not to use these funds fully on electrification or other fossil fuel engine technology. There may be pros and cons to either approach, but one thing is for certain, you can’t connect a diesel or CNG engine to solar power!

What do you think about the city’s plan? Should someone be pushing to make sure all (or as close to 100% as possible) of this public money gets spent to electrify transportation? Or are we ok with it possibly going to newer diesel and CNG?