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Henderson County hopes to 'get a charge' out of VW settlement fund

Thanks to the Volkswagen settlement for cheating on EPA pollution regulations, Henderson County may get a quick-charging station for electric vehicles, a boom truck for building services or a heavy duty truck for the Rescue Squad.


County commissioners on Monday opted to apply for up to $75,000 for the publicly accessible charging station and the two vehicles after hearing about the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust. The VW settlement resulted in a $2.9 billion allocation to fund programs in the U.S. that reduce smog-producing motor vehicle emissions, including $92 million for North Carolina. 
The county’s facility services department wants to apply for a vehicle to replace a 2006 diesel boom truck with a “Nifty Lift Self Drive Work Platform” and the Rescue Squad asked for a replacement of a 2007 Ford F-450 4x4 truck. The truck the squad wants would have a flat bed and fuel tank and could be used as a tow vehicle. The boom truck and Rescue Squad rig each cost about $60,000, Christine Brown, the county’s environmental programs coordinator, told the board. Both would have low-emissions technology.
Commissioners directed Brown to apply for grants for all three requests. If the county gets the E-charging station grant, the facility would go up at the Fourth Avenue East overflow lot of the Grove Street Courthouse. Under terms of the grant, the station would have to fill in charging station gaps, be accessible to the public and be near stores and restaurants. The charging station with a solar canopy to generate power for it would cost about $75,000, Brown said. If the VW grant does not cover the total cost, the county would have to pay the balance.

Motorists would pay to use the charging station. The facility would supply 80% of a vehicle's charge in under 30 minutes, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support green infrastructure and provide "a highly visible example of the county's environmental values," Brown said.

Commissioners endorsed the applications, which are due Sept. 30.

“We’ll apply for the grant and hope we get a charge out of it,” Chairman Grady Hawkins quipped.