Design and Construction, Green Building, Sustainability/Business Continuity

EPA, Utilities Partner to Deploy Electric School Buses Nationwide

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan announced a new pledge from electric utilities to support efforts to electrify the nation’s school bus fleet.

Regan unveiled the pledge while visiting Wabaunsee USD 329 School District in Alma, Kansas, to celebrate the delivery of the state’s first all-electric school buses. He also highlighted federal funding available to school districts and the success of the EPA’s Clean School Bus (CSB) program.

EPA’s Regan and a student. Source: @EPAMichaelRegan

“We are moving faster than ever to accelerate the transition to electric and low-emission school buses, and new electric school buses in rural school districts like Wabaunsee USD 329 are a shining of example of what we can accomplish when we invest in America,” said Regan.

‘Added Benefit’ for Wabaunsee

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided the EPA with $5 billion between FY22 and FY26 to replace diesel school buses with low- and zero-emission alternatives. In May 2022, EPA launched the first funding competition, initially making $500 million in rebates available to school districts nationwide. Given overwhelming demand, EPA nearly doubled the amount of funding for the 2022 rebates and awarded $965 million in rebates to 400 school districts for over 2,500 new clean school buses.

Wabaunsee USD 329, a rural school district, is among the 400 school districts benefiting from these rebates. Manufacturing partner Lion Electric received $790,000 in rebates for two Type C electric school buses that will serve Wabaunsee USD 329.

The new buses were delivered to the district in December 2022 and are already transporting students every day. The district partnered with the City of Alma’s municipal utility to quickly deploy electric charging infrastructure.

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Superintendent of Schools Dr. Troy Pitsch said, “This grant allows us to transport students cleaner and more safely to and from school. By the same token, we get the added benefit of cost-savings on transportation, redirecting funds normally spent on operations back into instruction.”

Utility Pledge

Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the association that represents all U.S. investor-owned electric companies, and the Beneficial Electrification League (BEL), a non-profit organization that works closely with rural electric cooperatives and public power utility providers on electrification initiatives, have teamed up with the EPA to support school bus electrification nationwide.

EEI members and BEL partners have pledged to proactively work with school districts to:

  • Facilitate communication between electric providers and school districts;
  • Provide technical support and assistance; and
  • Work together to increase funding and deployment for electric school buses.

“The new electric school buses will lower maintenance costs and help to improve local air quality while providing clean and reliable transportation for students,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “America’s electric companies are committed to helping their local school districts plan for their new electric school bus fleets.”

The EPA is also partnering with the U.S. Department of Energy and Department of Transportation to provide school districts with technical assistance to ensure effective implementation.

Progress Report

During Regan’s visit to Wabaunsee, the EPA administrator also announced the second Clean School Bus Report to Congress. The report summarizes the CSB program’s activities and progress from January 2022 through December 2022 and includes detailed information on the 2022 rebate funding initiative.

Highlights of the program’s first full year include:

  • Extensive outreach and a widespread enthusiasm from schools across the country in the rebate program, especially among low-income, rural and Tribal stakeholders.
  • Over 99% of the rebate selectees met the priority definition under the 2022 criteria, resulting in access to more funds for buses and charging infrastructure for schools in areas that need them most.
  • A new online system to facilitate a straightforward and accessible rebate application process that proved to be highly effective.
  • An interactive dashboard on to provide up-to-date information about the awarded 2022 CSB Rebates.

The full report is available here.

The EPA is also currently designing the next rounds of program funding to launch in the coming months, which will include a grant competition. Through future rounds of funding, the EPA will make available another $1 billion for clean school buses in FY23.

The agency encourages school districts not selected in the first round of rebates—and those that did not apply this funding cycle—to participate in future rounds. Visit the the CSB program website here.

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