Map photo courtesy of Wikimedia.

Map photo courtesy of Wikimedia.

Massachusetts will provide state grants to help municipal fleets replace gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles with electric vehicles and add EV charging infrastructure, Gov. Deval Patrick announced this week.

The electric-vehicle initiative will be the second Massachusetts alt-fuel initiative available to fleets, following the 2013 Clean Vehicle Project, which aims to replace more than 200 public and private fleet vehicles. That initiative includes a state allocation of $11.7 million for electric vehicle initiatives, according to a spokeswoman for Gov. Patrick.

The Massachusetts Electric Vehicle Incentive Program (MassEVIP) is a competitive incentive program that provides funds to cities to acquire electric vehicles and install Level 2 charging stations. The program is administered by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and funded with $2.5 million from the Motor Vehicle Inspection Trust Fund.

"With MassEVIP, the Commonwealth demonstrates its commitment to increase the deployment of EVs in municipal fleets, encourage demand for electric vehicles in Massachusetts, reduce smog forming emissions and greenhouse gases, and help the Commonwealth meet its air quality and Global Warming Solutions Act goals," according to a statement from Gov. Patrick.

MassDEP has awarded two phases of MassEVIP grants, including $555,000 to 20 municipalities for 21 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, 26 battery-electric vehicles, and 17 Level 2 dual-head charging stations in the first phase.

The second phase was open to municipalities, colleges, state agencies and car share operators. The state awarded $600,000 to 19 entities for the purchase or lease of electric vehicles and Level 2 charging stations.

The state also plans to convert diesel medium-duty trucks or shuttle buses to operate with plug-in battery-electric drivetrains and replace diesel shuttle buses with battery electric shuttle buses with wireless charging.

Under the Clean Vehicle Project, the state will also add fast-charging stations on major arteries to enable publicly-accessible highway charging. The chargers, which can fully charge most electric vehicles in less than 30 minutes, will support the eight-state Northeast Electric Vehicle Network.

"The Patrick Administration is committed to using innovative strategies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, bolster our energy independence and grow our clean energy economy," said Rick Sullivan, Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs secretary. "Electric fleets advance our goals and show that alternative fuel vehicles are a win-win for the environmental and economic bottom line."

The Clean Vehicle Program is funded by the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) improvement program sponsored by the U.S Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration.

By Paul Clinton