Washington State Receives Economic Recovery Grant Targeted to Reduce Greenhouse Gases

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, speaking at the Smart Growth Conference in Seattle, announced that one of the first grantees for recovery funds targeted to greenhouse gas and energy reduction will be a project involving lithium-ion titanate batteries in Washington State’s economically distressed Chelan and Douglas Counties.

Link Transit will receive $2.9 million to replace five diesel-powered circulator buses with five new Lithium-Ion battery electric vehicles, purchase two state-of-the-art “rapid recharge” charging stations and supporting equipment at Link Transit’s intermodal transit center, and fund one contracte employee to provide project management and technical oversight. The project is expected to eliminate 688 metric tons of carbon dioxide and equivalents from the air each year, or 8,250 metric tons over the lives of the vehicles.

“The Economic Recovery Act was put in place quickly to rescue the economy from the worst recession since the Great Depression,” said Secretary LaHood. “Today we’re bringing construction jobs and environmentally clean transit to Chelan and Douglas Counties.”

“These funds will create clean-energy jobs and will help Link Transit save on energy costs and reduce pollution in Chelan and Douglas Counties,” said Senator Patty Murray. “Investing in mass transit puts people to work today, helps our commuters, and keeps businesses moving to sustain economic growth in the future.”

Lithium-ion titanate batteries using fast and automated charging technology allow electric buses to be charged in a few minutes instead of a few hours, thereby overcoming a key limitation of previous battery electric buses, and allowing them to provide continuous all-day service. This promising battery technology is being utilized by Proterra LLC under FTA’s National Fuel Cell Bus Program.

The new Link Transit’s changing stations will be built in the Wenatchee communities in Chelan County, currently experiencing an unemployment rate of 10.7 percent. East Wenatchee, located in Douglas County, is currently experiencing an unemployment rate of 11.6 percent and has been declared economically distressed by the Governor. Construction spending and employment in both Chelan and Douglas counties are down nearly 40 percent from 2008 levels.

This is the first of 43 Transit Investment in Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to be awarded. A total of $100 million will be available for the 43 projects.

The President proposed $527 million in his budget for an ambitious new livability initiative at the U.S. Department of Transportation. Its Office of Livable Communities will be a focal point for initiatives such as expanding transit in low-income neighborhoods. It will fund a grant program to help state and local transportation agencies provide more transportation choices that spur economic development.