$1.3M Grant to Fund Zero-Emission Transportation & Infrastructure for Cherokee Nation

Proterra, which partnered with 23 transit agencies on FTA applications, will deploy the company’s battery-electric buses and charging infrastructure to the Cherokee Nation. (Proterra)

The Cherokee Nation intends to shrink its carbon footprint and reduce harmful diesel gas emissions with the addition of electric-powered buses.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has awarded $1,318,600 to the Cherokee Nation to cover the majority cost of two new, electric buses, plus infrastructure for charging stations in four cities.

“Electric buses that will run from Tahlequah to Catoosa and from Stilwell to West Siloam Springs,” said Cherokee Nation Secretary of Natural Resources Sara Hill. “And it will include not only the two electric buses but also infrastructure at all four locations. So, we’ll be able to build some infrastructure to charge the buses.”

In total through its Low- or No-Emission Grant Program, the FTA will give $84.45 million in grants to 52 projects in 41 states. The 2018 Low-No grants represent a landmark year in the history of the Low- or No-Emission Grant Program, with the greatest amount of funding awarded. The program funds infrastructure and transit buses powered by systems such as hybrid or battery electric engines. The Cherokee Nation is the only Oklahoma-based recipient of money.

“Communities across America will benefit from these investments in their transportation infrastructure,” said Elaine L. Chao, DOT secretary.

The Cherokee Nation partnered with Proterra, a leader in the design and manufacture of zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles, on its grant application.

Of the 52 grant recipients, 23 transit agencies won program support for Proterra battery-electric buses and charging infrastructure. Adoption of electric buses across the U.S. is expected to improve local air quality with zero tailpipe emissions.

“Now in our fifth year of Low-No Grant participation, it’s gratifying to see such widespread momentum and enthusiasm for zero-emission transportation and battery-electric fleets,” said Ryan Popple, Proterra CEO. “We commend these transit agencies for their efforts to reduce fossil fuel consumption and build a cleaner, healthier future together.”

Hill emphasized to Public Radio Tulsa that electric vehicles are also cost-efficient. “Some of the best bargains in transportation right now are electric buses, because diesel is expensive and diesel vehicles require a lot of maintenance,” she said. “Electric vehicles run more cleanly, and they’re actually a lot less expensive over the life of the bus, because they require much less maintenance.”