The Coachella Valley

The Coachella Valley

Border Valley Trading Ltd. Compressed Natural Gas fueling station in north Palm Springs, Tuesday January 1, 2013, is expecting a mitigation fee grant of $900,000 for an upgrade. / Wade Byars, The Desert Sun

The Coachella Valley could soon see a major jump in cleaner-burning compressed natural gas vehicles on its streets — and fewer running on dirty diesel — all paid for out of the $50.9 million in air quality improvement funds from the upcoming Competitive Power Ventures’ Sentinel power plant in North Palm Springs.

After an 11-month process, including a five-hour-plus public meeting in Palm Desert in October, the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Governing Board is expected to vote Friday on a list of 26 projects that could receive the funds.

Under the special law that created the fund, Assembly Bill 1318, 30 percent of the money must be spent on projects within a 6-mile radius of the plant and another 30 percent in “environmental justice” areas, mostly in the east valley, where more than 10 percent of the population lives under the federal poverty level and is exposed to high cancer risks.

The remaining 40 percent is going to projects in other areas of the valley, with the largest chunk, $17.4 million, earmarked for the Coachella Valley Association of Government’s proposed cross-valley pedestrian, bicycle and electric vehicle path.

Nine proposals on the list, totaling more than $4 million, would provide funds to buy a range of new CNG vehicles — a fuel that cuts polluting emissions 20 percent to 30 percent compared to diesel.

Desert Sands Unified School District could get five new CNG buses, while the city of Desert Hot Springs could score 10 new CNG pick-ups and Angel View Crippled Children’s Foundation could replace five of its aging diesel trucks with new CNG models for transporting donations for its resale shops.

“We’re taking 12-year-old diesel vehicles off the road,” said Catherine Rips, development director for Angel View, who looks forward to savings on fuel and maintenance costs.

The board will also vote on an additional proposal to spend $2.4 million from other agency funds for additional CNG buses for the Coachella Valley Unified School District and diesel retrofits for Desert Sands Unified — projects originally submitted for the Sentinel funds.


Source - My