SACRAMENTO, CA ---The California Air Resources Board on April 24 approved $42 million in Air Quality Improvement Program projects aimed at speeding the commercialization of on-road and off-road clean engine technologies. 

Beginning this fall, Californians will be able to use these grants toward the purchase of zero-emission or hybrid engine technologies, the board said. These technologies are expected to help California meet its long-term air quality and climate change goals. 

"These grants will help introduce the next generation of clean vehicles and equipment into California so that we get a step closer to energy efficiency and break away from dependence on oil," said ARB Chairwoman Mary D. Nichols. "We'll all enjoy cleaner air and improved health as a result."

ARB said that all interested Californians can participate in the following funding assistance programs to purchase new commercially available technologies for the 2009-10 fiscal year by contacting the board. The four projects are: 

  • $25 million for hybrid trucks and buses
  • $5 million for zero-emission and plug-in hybrid cars and motorcycles
  • $2 million for lawn and garden equipment that will augment air districts' existing replacement programs
  • $1.3 million for zero-emission agricultural equipment.  

The Air Quality Improvement Program will also fund demonstration projects that will focus on promising technologies not yet in wide production. The five projects are:

  • $2 million for the production of locomotives that emit lower amounts of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter
  • $1 million for hybrid marine vessels
  • $3 million for zero-emission or plug-in hybrid transit and school buses in addition to retrofits
  • $2 million for hybrid off-road equipment and retrofits such as vehicles used in construction, mining and airport ground support
  • $1 million for hybrid off-road agricultural equipment and retrofits including tractors and agricultural pumps.

Also approved April 24 were guidelines to delineate how ARB will run this new financial assistance program to ensure efficiency and public input. The guidelines establish requirements for such areas as program administration, oversight and accountability, reporting, and procedures for developing project solicitation and project selection. 

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger provided funding for alternative fuels and clean vehicle technologies by signing AB 118 into law in October 2007. Last week, the California Energy Commission adopted an investment plan that provides $176 million over the next two years to fund programs that promote these new technologies. Smog abatement, vehicle and vessel registration fees will pay for these programs.

The programs will "help achieve the objectives of the recently adopted low carbon fuel standard that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and diversify the state's fuel supply," the board said in a press release.