DERG Round Two Schedule:  Tentatively, Ohio will begin soliciting grant applications on December 15th for the second round of funding under the Diesel Emission Reduction Grant (DERG) program administered by the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD).  DERG will have approximately $11.2 million in available funding in the second round.  The grants pay for retrofits of emission controls, engine rebuilds, and a portion of the purchase price of new diesel vehicles.  Here are the tentative dates as discussed in a meeting with ODOD last week: 

  • Monday, Dec. 15: release of the RFP with a press event, media release and posting of application documents on the website.
  • Monday, Jan. 12 at 10 a.m.: first of two bidders conferences
  • Monday, Feb. 9 at 10 a.m., second bidders conference
  • Monday, March 2, applications due
  • The selection team will take up to 60 days to review, score and forward successful applications to the Federal Highway Administration. Projects selected for funding will be notified by May 1, 2009

Grants are available to both public and private entities.  Because the source of funding is the federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) program, private companies must enter into a contract (called a Public Private Partnership- PPP) with a public entity.  The money follows from the state to the the public entity who then reimburses the company. 

What Does DERG Pay For? Diesel grants are a great way to pay for fuel saving equipment, like auxiliary power units (APUs), that reduce idling.  Engine or vehicle replacements can be partially funded through the DERG program.  Also, companies who want a greener fleet for contract bidding or as part of the company’s sustainability efforts can pay for retrofits that dramatically reduce emissions from their diesel engines.  All applications require a twenty percent (20%) match.

Issues With Round One of DERG:  As discussed in prior posts, the DERG program experienced significant problems and delays in the Round One of funding. Most notable, 42 applications were filed in round one, but only 10 applications were deemed complete- all of which received funding.  As a member of the Ohio Diesel Coalition, we have advocated for a series of improvements to the grant application process to ensure a transparent and competitive grant process.

Improvements to DERG Round Two:  Last week, representatives of the Ohio Diesel Coalition, including myself, met with members of an inter-agency team working on the DERG program to review changes to the program. The State’s inter-agency team is composed of officials with the Ohio EPA, Ohio Department of Development and Ohio Department of Transportation.  To help improve the overall application process and to ensure complete applications are submitted, the inter-agency team will put in place the following changes for Round Two:

  1. A concisely written Request for Proposals (RFP) will be released by ODOD
  2. template of the Public Private Partnership agreement (a major stumbling block for many in round one) has been posted on the DERG website
  3. All successful round one applications have been posted on the website
  4. Applicants are given more time to prepare applications (up to 2 months)
  5. Two separate bidders conferences (in person, by telephone or over the web) will be offered in advance of the application due date to answer questions
  6. The State developed a consolidated application form to cover all types of projects (retrofits, repowers and replacements)
  7. A checklist will be included in the application packet to ensure applicants include all required information

Other Developments:  ODOD made a policy decision to set aside $5 million of the remaining $11.2 million in funding for public transit projects. However, if total transit requests are below $5 million, all other fleets can compete for these funds. There is no ceiling on project amounts, but the minimum amount that could be requested is $20,000 per project.

When To Look For The New Application:  The new RFP has not yet been posted on ODOD’s web page.  I imagine all the documents, including the RFP, checklist and other documents will be posted on the release date of the RFP (December 15th).  Keep an eye on ODOD’s website for this information.  In the meantime, it may be a good idea to evaluate projects and approach a public entity about a PPP contract

(Photo: Flickr terinea/