GNA’s Peter Ogundele on Making Grant Funding Work for You

Interested in seeing 50 new fast-charging stations installed in your city that can fuel medium-to heavy duty vehicles? The U.S. Dept. of Energy estimates the cost for a single port EVSE unit to be $10,000 to $40,000 for DC fast charging, and installation costs in the $4,000 to $51,000 range. Let’s say the suppliers offer a competitive, discounted price for the entire project. That could be about $1.5 million for the project on the low-cost end.

That could likely be outside of a municipal fleet’s budget, and that of private companies and other entities. They may have the internal financial support to bring in new electric trucks, but they’re facing the classic ‘chicken or the egg’ question — they need to see a growing charging infrastructure to justify the truck investment.

Peter Ogundele, Director, Programs, at GNA (which will operate as TRC starting on July 1, 2024) had a lot to say to Green Auto Market about it. Over the years, GNA has worked with clients to bring in about $1.1 billion in secured grants and funding for clean vehicles and fuels — at a 90% success rate on grant applications.

Applying for grant funding and incentives for clean transportation projects is a labor-intensive, high-risk initiative for fleets, government and NPO agencies, OEMs, suppliers, and other stakeholders committed to bringing cleaner air and reduced greenhouse gas emissions to their communities. Being well prepared and focused is a necessity, and bringing in partners like GNA, Clean Cities coalitions, and other professionals experienced in the funding process, is usually the tipping point for hitting those targets.

Ogundele is from Canada and started in the oil and gas industry as a petroleum engineer. That shifted over to the clean energy and transportation space, and he’s been with GNA since December 2021. Prior experience has been in electric vehicle charging networks and hydrogen fueling stations.

Putting it into context, the process and available funds have evolved quite a bit over the past 15 years. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) presented opportunities with potential for hydrogen and fuel cell technologies and electric vehicle credits and funding for charging infrastructures. “It was an unbelievable watershed, because at that point (these projects) could get funding of about $300 million,” Ogundele said.

All of that has grown and scaled quite a lot over the years, and can typically be seen in diverse individual funding programs. It’s coming from multiple sources from federal, state, and local governments. We’re starting to see huge grant opportunities at the federal level and sometimes from States and other agencies as well, Ogundele said.

That has been enhanced over the years, including October 2023 when the U.S. Department of Energy announced $7 billion to launch seven Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs (H2Hubs) across the nation. It’s also aimed at accelerating the commercial-scale deployment of low-cost, clean hydrogen.

Funding 360 behind all of it
GNA’s ‘Funding 360’ philosophy and practices have been at the heart of acquiring necessary funding. It’s a full-circle process that GNA has diligently followed, he said.

That comes through grants, rebates, loans, credits, and tax incentives for client partners. Securing the funding breaks out into a four-part process:

  1. Goals: factoring in operational needs, risk tolerance and financial requirements, fuel and technology type, and geographic location and targeted regions.
  2. Report: staying on track to meet burdensome administrative requirements and to meet reporting deadlines such as vehicle miles traveled, emissions reduced, funds distributed, and construction progress.
  3. Track: monitoring requirements for 500+ U.S. and Canadian funding programs, with relationships in place with the national, state, and local agencies that offer the funding.
  4. Apply: writing strong grants and other applications that sell your project by leveraging your knowledge of technical requirements and other facets of what goes into securing available funding programs.

Reporting requirements can extend out two-to-five years. The administrative burden can include gathering the data, managing the data, reporting on the operations, and providing feedback to the agencies.

“We want to make sure that they understand what the obligations are,” he said. “Even if it’s the same solicitation, every year the language changes,” he said.

Lately that can take the form of applying for workforce development grants, health and environmental concerns for disadvantaged communities, zero emission vehicle regulations, sustainability and climate change measures, and other policies. The “data metrics” can change based on what’s being measured for the application and its end goals, he said.

Heavy-duty electric vehicle charging is a rising concern, and the North American Charging Standard (NACS) comes up a lot. NACS is known as the Tesla charging standard and is being standardized as SAE J3400.

You can tap into GNA’s resources on the Funding & Incentives page of its website, including the Case Studies section and more details on grant writing.

One case study mentioned by Ogundele is the Joint Electric Truck Scaling Initiative (JETSI) project. Started in 2021 and going through March 2025, JETSI is one of the first pilot projects funded in California which provides fleets with concrete guidance and lessons learned to successfully deploy about 100 battery electric trucks and infrastructure at scale, and to enable fleets to transition to zero emission technologies. It’s being funded by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and California Energy Commission (CSC), with South Coast Air Quality Management District as the grantee leading the project. It’s also part of the California Climate Investments program.

GNA has been pivotal working with stakeholders to bring it together and help deploy this project, he said.

Another good place to hear about some of the success stories and to seek guidance on funding projects will be at the Advanced, Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo. This event will be taking place May 20-23, 2024 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Going to workshop and speaker events will be a good opportunity to connect with professional experienced in carrying out these types of projects.

“You get different people involved from the OEMs, regulatory agencies, infrastructure providers, government agencies, community leaders,” he said, “so everyone can be in the same room.”

Here’s some more resources for those doing research on this topic:

Grant opportunities and funding sources in clean transportation and energy:

EERE Vehicle Technologies Office
The U.S. Department of Energy Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) supports high impact projects that can significantly and swiftly advance market acceptance of next generation energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) provides new funding opportunities that are announced regularly. (And don’t forget to go to Grants.gov to sign up for the announcement emails.)

Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
U.S. Dept. of Energy research and development to lower the cost of clean energy technologies, protect the private sector from financial risk, and ensure an equitable transition to a decarbonized economy. Project selections are merit-based with an emphasis on potential energy, environmental, and economic benefits.

ARPA-E Funding Opportunity Announcements
U.S. Dept. of Energy says that the objective of this solicitation is to support high-risk R&D leading to the development of potentially disruptive new technologies across the full spectrum of energy applications.

U.S. EPA Technology Advancement Funding Opportunities
The Clean Technology Initiative is an ongoing effort by California agencies and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as others. These pages provide funding resources to help accelerate cleanup solutions in the form of advanced clean technologies.

U.S. Dept. of Transportation
Funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (2021) and the Inflation Reduction Act (2022) support projects such as the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program; and the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program.

South Coast Air Quality Management District
These programs are generally rooted in the initiatives and policies adopted by the SCAQMD Governing Board, or in state and federal programs designed to spread the use of cleaner technologies that reduce air pollution.

California Energy Commission Solicitations
Information about funding opportunities that the CEC offers that advance the state’s transition to clean energy and transportation through innovation, efficiency, and the development and deployment of advanced technologies.

California Climate & Energy Collaborative
These opportunities offer a curated list of open, upcoming and past opportunities relevant to local climate and energy practitioners that can help them advance fair and equitable climate change and energy practices. This database defaults to showing active opportunities first.

CARB — Low Carbon Transportation Investments and AQIP Grant Solicitations
The California Air Resources Board issues competitive grant solicitations for each project category listed in the Low Carbon Transportation Incentives and AQIP Funding Plans.  Current solicitations and documents for some of the most recent project solicitations are posted on this web page. 

New York’s Drive Clean Rebate
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) offers the Charge NY initiative, which provides electric car buyers the Drive Clean Rebate of up to $2,000 for new car purchases or leases. NYSERDA has several other programs that provide incentives, funding, and technical assistance to accelerate electric vehicle adoption. Charge Ready NY 2.0 offers incentives to public, private, and not-for-profit organizations that install Level 2 EV charging stations at workplaces, multi-unit dwellings, or public facilities. Charging at Multifamily Properties includes information and resources on the benefits, best practices, and financial incentives for installing EV charging stations at multi-unit dwellings. Truck Voucher Incentive Program provides vouchers and discounts for fleets to purchase or lease zero-emission trucks and buses and take high-emitting, polluting diesel vehicles off the road.

Clean Cities Coalition Network
The U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Clean Cities program offers funding opportunities to implement alternative fuels, advanced vehicle technologies, and fuel-saving strategies. Funding opportunities are available from many sources inside and outside the DOE.

US EPA’s West Coast Collaborative
The West Coast Collaborative is a voluntary public-private partnership committed to reducing diesel emissions and advancing clean technologies throughout the western United States. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grants provide the available funding resources.

Transportation Funding Resources in Washington State
Working together to support transportation efficient communities through Washington State Department of Transportation — federal and state programs.

Port of Los Angeles
Grant funds are available from local, state and federal agencies for air emission reductions that go beyond current regulatory requirements for the Port of Los Angeles and several other organizations. Source categories include Cargo-Handling Equipment (CHE), Harbor Craft (HC), Heavy-Duty Vehicles (HDV), Ocean-Going Vessels (OGV) and Rail Locomotives (RL). Potential funding opportunities are summarized below.

CIV:Lab
CIV:LAB leverages global capital to connect community stakeholders with the resources and funding required to launch bold responses to the threats of the climate crisis.

U.S. Venture Sustainability Accelerator
Join the 12-week startup accelerator sponsored by U.S. Venture and powered by gener8tor. With a vision to be the very best provider of transportation products, sustainability solutions, and insights driving the world forward, the U.S. Venture Sustainability Accelerator program will mirror this foundation by investing $100K into five sustainability- and mobility-related startups to provide a mentorship-based, concierge-service programming needed to experience growth and acquisition.

And in other news…………

Managing EVs after a disruptive year: Automotive Fleet’s Chris Brown analyzes how events such as Hertz getting out of EVs and used EV prices tanking are disrupting the marketplace and working environment for fleet professionals. Fleet operators have to manage challenges such as looming regulations, corporate ESG initiatives, and their organizations’ bottom line.

Cummins video: See the ‘Destination Zero’ strategy video from Cummins on how the truck and chassis manufacturer is facing 2027 with NOx and future greenhouse gas emissions requirements coming, along with new technologies and architecture in their powertrains.

Fisker in trouble: Electric vehicle maker Fisker has hired restructuring advisers to assist with a possible bankruptcy filing, according to people familiar with the matter and the Wall Street Journal. The company hired financial adviser FTI Consulting and the law firm Davis Polk to work on a potential filing, sources said. Fisker Inc. reported last month that it had $273 million in sales last year and more than $1 billion in debt. 

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