KANSAS CITY, Mo. (November 8th, 2021) – The U.S. Department of Energy has selected Metropolitan Energy Center (MEC) for a $5.2 million award to lead electric vehicle (EV) and charging station projects under the Low Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Vehicle Technologies Research, Development, Demonstration and Deployment program. Funded projects will reduce diesel fumes in the air we breathe by supporting EV purchases, charging station installations, and outreach efforts to notify communities of these resources. The funds will also help small businesses and rural cities accelerate their transition to electric vehicles in Missouri and Kansas.
As part of the award program, eight businesses and municipalities in Kansas and Missouri have pledged more than 15% of their own project budgets in contributions to help smaller communities qualify for federal cost-share matching requirements. These businesses and muncipalities operate within environmental justice areas, opportunity zones, and other underserved areas. In addition to sedans, they are replacing small and heavy trucks with electric models. Diesel emissions from heavy vehicles and off-road machinery contribute to early deaths, asthma rates and family illness keeping people away from jobs and school. Those are just some of the health and social impacts from diesel fumes that affect the community members MEC serves.
Additionally, thanks to this award and generous overmatch contributions from some funding recipients, MEC can offer a small grant program for underserved communities. Small grant recipients will define for themselves what project features would be locally most beneficial, like projects to install public EV charging stations in parking lots and curbsides near multi-unit residential complexes and retail businesses. The success of the program depends upon placing EV charging stations within underserved or rural areas that feel the effects of environmental justice issues.
Executive director Kelly Gilbert said, “MEC will use our access to reach and empower communities in underserved urban and rural areas. We will provide funds that communities can use in the ways that they decide will best meet their local needs. We’ve seen that publicly funded EV chargers are even less likely than privately funded chargers to land in underserved areas, and it is important to change that trend.”
The award is expected to be finalized and the project to begin in early 2022; small grants are expected to be available in 2023. Organizations interested in learning more about the upcoming small grant program opportunities should contact Miriam Bouallegue at firstname.lastname@example.org.