Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf on Nov. 1 awarded $8.7 million to three Marine and Rail Freight Movers Grant Program projects that will replace older diesel-powered switchers with “green” power.
The Marine and Rail Freight Movers Grant Program is a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) competitive grant program aiming to “improve the commonwealth’s air quality by reducing NOx emissions produced by nonroad equipment like freight switcher locomotives, ferries and tugboats.” As part of the program, projects seeking to repower or replace pre-Tier 4 switchers that operate at least 1,000 hours per year are eligible for grant funding. Those switchers must be repowered with “any new EPA or CARB-certified diesel, alternative fuel or all-electric engine, including generator sets” or replaced with “any new EPA or CARB-certified diesel, alternative fuel or all-electric freight switcher, including generator sets,” according to Pennsylvania DEP. Projects are evaluated for “being in a priority area, such as an Environmental Justice area, an Act 47 Financially Distressed Municipality, designated high-traffic and high-population density areas, and high-pollution areas.”
The three projects receiving awards in CY2021 are:
• U.S. Steel Corp. (Allegheny County, Pa.): $4,529,104 to improve air quality and reduce emissions by scrapping two older diesel-powered switchers that were built in 1964 and 1974, and replacing them with new lithium-ion, battery-electric locomotives. U.S. Steel Corp. operates the Clairton Steel Works and coke plant, where metallurgical coke is produced from coal. U.S. Steel also operates the Edgar Thompson Plant, where high-carbon steel is produced. The Clairton Plant currently operates a switcher fleet of two diesel-powered units, and the Edgar Thompson Plant operates a switcher fleet of eight diesel-powered units.
• Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad Co. (B&LER, owned by CN; Mercer County, Pa.): $2,900,000 to replace an older diesel-powered switcher built in 1973 with a new lithium-ion, battery-electric unit. B&LER operates a fleet of six long-haul locomotives and four switchers.
• Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA; Philadelphia County, Pa.): $1,260,000 to replace a diesel-electric-powered work locomotive built in 2008 with a new EPA Tier 4-certified diesel-electric locomotive with idle-reduction technology.
“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is key to addressing climate change and to reaching our commonwealth’s Climate Action Plan goals,” Gov. Wolf said. “Supporting projects that reduce emissions and pollution is a step in the right direction to ensure a better quality of life for our communities and the environment.”
The Marine and Rail Freight Movers Grant Program is part of Pennsylvania DEP’s Driving PA Forward Program, whose objective is to “permanently reduce lifetime NOx emissions from mobile sources by as much as 27,700 tons.” Also under the Driving PA Forward Program is the Fast Charging and Hydrogen Fueling Grant Program, for which Wolf on Nov. 1 made five project awards.