(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has announced a $12.7 million initiative to support companies and communities switching to electric freight trucks.

Environmental justice areas, high traffic density areas and Act 47 financially distressed municipalities will be prioritized.

“Our newest Driving PA Forward initiative aims to support transformational scale electrification of local trucks to improve air quality in communities with some of the highest air pollution levels in Pennsylvania,” said DEP Acting Secretary Ramez Ziadeh. “A growing number of communities are proactively pursuing healthier air quality and greenhouse emission reductions. They’re interested in zero-emission electric options for the kinds of trucks that travel their neighborhoods on a regular basis.”

The funding is available to local government, businesses and nonprofits to replace at least five old diesel trucks with new electric trucks. Smaller fleets could be eligible for an exception that would replace three trucks. That includes freight trucks, garbage, recycling, utility and delivery trucks. The funding also will support charging infrastructure and installation.

DEP will provide anywhere from 75% to 100% of the funding required to transition fleets to electric vehicles. Nongovernment applicants will receive 75% funding, municipalities will receive 90% funding, and municipalities with an Act 47 status will receive 100% funding.

The program also will provide DEP with pertinent data. Grant recipients will provide data on how they bought the electric trucks, how they installed changing, and operational data on fleet performance.

“We know from our work with community and business leaders that their interest in electric trucks is matched by a need for logistical information. How long does an electric truck take to charge? How long does the charge last? What’s the cost to operate? What are the fuel savings?” said Acting Secretary Ziadeh. “With two years of on-the-ground data from grantees, we’ll develop case studies to expand the knowledge base on electric truck operation, performance, and maintenance in Pennsylvania.”

Additionally, DEP announced on Dec. 1 that it will award $1.7 million in Driving PA Forward State Clean Diesel Grants to three projects to replace old diesel trucks with zero- or low-emission trucks. Those grants were awarded to SMS Mill Services of Chester County (more than $1.17 million), Metalico Pittsburgh (more than $499,000) and Dietz & Watson of Philadelphia (more than $83,000).