To Apply, Or Not? EPA’s New Clear Faculty Bus Grant Program, Deciphered

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Usually, I really like the arms-wide-open, let’s-include-everyone method to issues, whether or not it’s a social gathering at my home, or a funding program for electrical faculty buses (ESBs). Final yr’s rebate program undoubtedly had that spirit; the Environmental Safety Company’s (EPA’s) Clear Faculty Bus Program awarded virtually one billion to 389 faculties and Tribes in yr considered one of its five-year, 5 billion greenback program.

EPA’s new funding spherical, although, goes deep as a substitute of huge. I really like this one too, as a result of it’s designed to assist entire fleets transition to electrical, whereas straightforward, open-arms rebates are designed to get fleets began on ESBs. We’d like each. My criticisms (I’m a loyal critic) are that Spherical 2 nonetheless doesn’t enable repowers (see the STN article on repowers I coauthored with Tim Farquer) and out of 120 doable factors, solely 5 are for addressing unhealthy air high quality. On the optimistic aspect, the Environmental Justice part of the appliance (see second chart beneath) has 25 doable factors, excess of any standards. That’s good!

I’ve labored in each worlds: the governmental one which evaluates grant proposals and awards giant sums of cash, and the world that applies for these funds, wins them, and implements tasks. (Successful is so enjoyable, however much less enjoyable if your pals don’t win too.) On this e-newsletter I’ll bottom-line EPA’s Clear Faculty Bus Program $400 million greenback 58 web page Discover of Funding Alternative, launched April twenty fourth. Even when this spherical isn’t for you, the data and hyperlinks beneath might profit you, as a result of electrical faculty buses are in all of our futures.

This text contains:

  • The place to use and the place the cash will go
  • What’s totally different (and the identical) on this funding spherical
  • Who ought to apply this spherical, and who shouldn’t
  • Who evaluates your software
  • When: deadline to use is August 22, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. EST (8:59 p.m. PST)
  • How the factors lie in scoring the proposals
  • Bonus: data on hydrogen gasoline cell faculty buses (not funding associated)
  • WASBE updates together with new WASBE Audio system Checklist (Girls Accelerating Faculty Bus Electrification)

I’m Alison Wiley right here in Oregon, an ESB, fairness, and inclusion geek. I’ve labored in low-carbon transportation since 2006, specializing in electrical buses since 2016. My newsletters (housed right here) make the advanced subject of ESBs extra accessible and comprehensible to all kinds of readers. This article is a member of the nationwide, equity-focused Alliance For Electrical Faculty Buses, however doesn’t converse for the Alliance, nor for the World Assets Institute’s Electrical Faculty Bus Initiative, which partially funds this article.

The place do you apply? At grants.gov, and sam.gov, similar because the final spherical. Test now to verify your account is present. It will possibly take two weeks or extra to create a brand new account.

The place will the cash land? See map beneath:

Graphic of regional EPA funding image, map is from the EPA web site, funding graphic created by Li Mattson

Totally different From 2022 Rebate Spherical

  • Lengthy, advanced software
  • Aggressive; scored with factors
  • Third events can apply instantly for funds*
  • Min.25 buses max.100 for third events
  • Min.15 buses max. 50 for varsity districts
  • Consequence to be small quantity (25-50) of huge grants
  • Heaps extra eligible bills: technical help, coaching, photo voltaic panels, battery storage, and many others.
  • Winners determine the right way to divide their award between bus value and charging value
  • Successful purposes could also be publicly posted (I can’t think about everybody being proud of this)

*Third events embody contractors (i.e. First Scholar), faculty bus sellers, Highland, faculty bus producers and nonprofit pupil transportation associations. Third occasion purposes should profit not less than 4 faculty districts, and doc that the varsity bus fleets of their proposed tasks need to do the mission.

Identical As 2022 Rebate Spherical

  • Precedence to low revenue, rural and Tribal faculties (2023 EPA listing)
  • Free assist in making use of is out there from nonprofits, producers, Highland
  • Should apply through sam.gov and grants.gov
  • Winners obtain funds previous to spending them (this helps fairness)
  • Buses eligible for substitute: 2010 and older diesels which might be absolutely operational
  • No fleet enlargement
  • Substitute buses to be scrapped (to stop additional air pollution)

Who ought to apply and who shouldn’t?

Faculty bus fleets and third events which might be already working ESBs and are oriented towards fleet transition ought to apply. People which might be simply “ESB curious” shouldn’t — however ought to apply for the subsequent rebate spherical that EPA states it’ll launch this fall. Rebate applications are all-comers, good for pilots, with quick, non-competitive purposes and winners sometimes chosen by lottery.

Who evaluates your software?

Your EPA Regional workplace, the identical workplaces which were operating the Diesel Emissions Discount Act applications for years. However they will’t reply your questions; they will solely let you know to go the CSBP web site and to pose questions through e mail to cleanschoolbus@epa.gov.

When? Deadline to use is August 22, 2023, one minute earlier than midnight Jap (that’s 8:59 p.m. for Westerners like me).

How do the factors lie? See pie chart beneath. Truthfully, I feel that successful purposes will take tons of labor. If I have been making use of I’d block out 10 hours every week and get plenty of assist, together with from my utility. I’d ask a number of organizations for letters of help, then draft these letters for them to signal, making every letter extremely particular to their perspective and their function within the mission.To satisfy the 15-page most of the Venture Narrative and prune, say, my 26-word sentences down to 10 phrases, I’d use one thing like this information to conciseness.

Pie chart of doable factors created by Li Mattson

How To Study Extra? Use EPA’s Occasions web page to enroll in its upcoming grant webinars and to get the slides and recordings from those already accomplished (similar to yesterday’s). See WRI’s complete ESB assets right here (particularly for varsity bus fleets), and the Alliance has posted in depth assets (particularly for advocates).

Hydrogen Gas Cell Faculty Buses: A Factor?

A prototype by Hyperion and Pegasus plans to enter the market in 2024 (STN). Are they a viable possibility? Right here’s what I do know:

  • Zero emissions, like battery-electric
  • Effectively confirmed within the public transit world
  • In contrast to battery-electric, they carry out head-to-head with diesel
  • 300-mile vary means they may doubtlessly work as exercise buses
  • In contrast to battery-electric, require large, expensive charging infrastructure upfront
  • They gasoline about as shortly as diesel
  • Are suited to complete fleet transition, however not for pilot tasks

It’s arduous for me to examine HFCBs catching on within the faculty bus trade as a result of million-dollar plus funding wanted upfront for charging infrastructure. Few faculty districts appear to have that type of cash or political will. However I’d be glad to be confirmed mistaken. Many due to Erik Bigelow, my former colleague at Middle for Transportation and the Atmosphere (CTE, long-time specialists on electrical buses) for vetting this part.

Monetary help for this article is offered partly by the World Assets Institute. Whereas the World Assets Institute might interact as a companion on content material, it doesn’t management, nor does it essentially endorse, the contents of this article.

By Alison Wiley (she/her/hers)
Electrical Faculty Bus E-newsletter

alison@electricschoolbus.org

I’m on the ancestral lands of the Multnomah, Chinook and Cowlitz peoples.
Whose land are you on?

 


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