With budgets tight at the local level, more fleet managers are looking to qualify for state and federal funds earmarked to help city and county governments meet the requirements of Clean Air Acts. These funds can be a boon to municipal fleets working under severe budget constraints. But with increased competition and a growing number of carbon-reduction options, how can a fleet manager make the case that theirs is a cost-effective program, deserving of state or federal support?
- Keep upfront costs low. Your application will look that much better if it shows that you can get the program off the ground for a low initial cost and begin showing results quickly. This is where idle efficiency technology offers an advantage over an alternative-fuel vehicle approach. Startup costs can be recouped quickly, and overall miles-per-gallon savings are much less likely to have an impact on performance.
- Make broad, transformative changes. Sure, you could use state or federal funds to begin moving to electric or alternative-fuel vehicles, but the associated costs require a long, gradual ramp up. Building infrastructure to serve a few vehicles, or running vehicles without an infrastructure hinders your ability to demonstrate success. A program centered on idle efficiency could begin with a pilot and quickly extend to the whole fleet, without a large funding commitment.
- Set realistic goals. Idle efficiency pilot results can serve as a benchmark, allowing you to set goals that meet or surpass Clean Air Act requirements, and are well within reach by year’s end. That’s key because municipalities receiving funds often must report to oversight boards annually and undergo periodic independent audits to prove they are meeting requirements. For example, one such state program has auditors looking for municipalities to meet a minimum threshold of $10/pound of carbon emissions reduced.
- Work with an expert. The final hurdle to clear is navigating the application process and poring over the paperwork to make sure your program meets requirements. Fleet managers would be well served to identify and enlist a local partner with proven experience applying for and winning funds. Their expertise in laying out the details of the program and demonstrating results to oversight boards can mean the difference between winning funds and waiting for next year.