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The Green Freight Assessment Program is currently open to trucking companies needing advice on retrofits, vehicle replacement and driver training. Step two — money to assist with implementation — comes later this year

Help is at hand for freight companies looking to reduce their fleets’ carbon emissions and cut fuel costs but are unsure how best to start.

The Green Freight Assessment Program, a program first introduced by Natural Resources Canada in 2018, is now accepting a second round of applications for funding to pay for fleet energy assessments by third-party experts.

Following that, a second round of financial assistance to support the implementation of those recommendations will open later this year.

“In an industry with small profit margins, operational efficiencies are essential to competitiveness; companies are finding that important investment decisions, such as adopting new fuel-saving technologies, must be made based on comprehensive assessments,” says an NRCan spokesperson.

Addresses key barriers

While GFAP is a modest program — offering $3.4 million in funding over four years — it was “designed to address the key financial and awareness barriers facing freight companies that want to decarbonize their operations,” he adds.

As noted, money is available in two categories. In the assessment stage — which is currently open — NRCan provides up to $10,000 (or 50 per cent) to pay for a third-party fleet energy assessment and recommendations on class 5, 6, 7, 8a and 8b vehicles. In the implementation phase, companies are eligible for up to $100,000 (or 50 per cent) to help pay for new equipment, retrofits or new low-carbon vehicles.

“The importance of the freight sector to Canada’s economy cannot be overstated, as it delivers essential goods and services that make our economy function, a fact brought into sharp focus during this pandemic”

— Natural Resources Canada spokesperson

According to the GFAP information pages on the NRCan website, retrofits can include things like: auxiliary power units and bunk heaters; side skirts; boat tails; aerodynamic mud flaps; low-rolling resistant tires; speed limiters, and predictive cruise control. Eligible alternative fuel vehicles include battery electric, hydrogen fuel cell and compressed/liquified natural gas technologies.

Training for drivers to ensure new equipment is properly used and maintained is also supported.

The site lists the names of 14 companies that received assessment support in an earlier round of funding and 12 companies the got help with implementation. According to NRCan, the program to date has contributed to the review and analysis of over 5,000 medium and heavy-duty vehicles.

Essential goods and services

Prospective applicants for the assessment should make sure they meet requirements by reviewing the application guide and exceptions before applying. One of the stipulations includes the applicant already having funded 50 per cent of the project. The online application should include the assessor’s quote.

“Fleet assessments provide a thorough review and analysis of a fleet’s performance and result in tailored recommendations on how a company can improve their fuel efficiency through retrofits and fuel-switching,” says the GFAP site.

Successful applicants are notified within five business days of their submission.

The assessment phase is open to applications until March 31, 2021. According to NRCan, approved projects will be offered financing until all funds have been committed. After that, applicants will be placed on a wait list as they are approved.

“The importance of the freight sector to Canada’s economy cannot be overstated, as it delivers essential goods and services that make our economy function, a fact brought into sharp focus during this pandemic,” says the NRCan spokesperson. “Given the expected increase in emissions [from this sector], it is important that we continue to support both the competitiveness of the industry and its desire to reduce the carbon footprint of operations.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated on September 4, 2020 to correct the program timings.