SAN ANTONIO. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) and Rush Truck Centers (RTC) will receive a $5-million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help provide special financing for pre-2007 used trucks retrofitted with EPA SmartWay-verified emissions and idle reduction technology. RTC said this resulted from its growing effort to tap into green market initiatives.

The money – awarded through the EPA’s SmartWay Clean Diesel Finance program – helps guarantee loans used to buy retrofitted used tractor-trailers at RTC locations in southern states. W. M. “Rusty” Rush, president & CEO of Rush Enterprises , parent of RTC, said the program offers a cleaner, greener, economical option for Class 8 buyers who might not be able to afford the increased cost of a 2010 emissions-compliant truck.

“The issue with green efforts in trucking has always been about the price of the [greener] product and support infrastructure relative to potential savings,” Rush said during a media briefing here at RTC’s 2010 Technician Skills Rodeo. “Going ’green’ makes sense when it’s economical – and this [clean diesel finance] program is economical,” he added.

RTC will serve as the exclusive vendor for these greener used trucks, starting at its Nashville (Smyrna), TN, dealership, and expanding to other Southeast locations over the next few years. RTC and SACE will also determine which used trucks are retrofitted, with buyers getting a choice to retrofit a pre-2007 vehicle from other trucks in inventory within its national network of 59 locations.

The finance effort – dubbed the “Clean Trucks Make Cents” program – is focused on the eight Southeastern states that make up EPA Region 4, where about 16-million people are subject to levels of air pollution that do not meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ground-level ozone, the main component in smog. About 8 million are exposed to air quality that violates the federal standards for particulate matter, said Anne Blair, clean diesel and bio-energy program manager for SACE.

“The program will help address trucks that operate through major transportation corridors in this region, reducing emissions and community exposure, particularly at delivery sites such as rail yards, grocery stores and truck distribution centers,” Blair explained.

RTC added that the “Clean Trucks Make Cents” program will finance up to 100% of the purchase or lease of a pre-2007 tractor-trailer and is designed to help individual truckers and small business operators who might not normally qualify for such a loan. RTC’s Nashville TN and Winter Garden FL locations plan to have retrofitted trucks in stock in early 2011.