EPA Announces Details for Electric School Bus Rebates

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EPA Announces Details for Electric School Bus Rebates

Today, the EPA held a webinar on their new $5 billion electric school bus program. In case you missed the presentation, you can find the slides and content here.

EPA is opening the funding with rebates for districts because it’s the quickest way to spend the money and get districts the buses. The rebate program is designed to be straightforward. It is for bus replacement and infrastructure only. When compared to a grant proposal, it is straightforward and short and the EPA says the online application that is simple and easy to complete. The application should be posted in early May and the application window will be 3 months long. Districts that are interested in the grant process should immediately register for an account with SAM.gov so they can receive a notice when the grant process opens and other TA that will be associated with the grant. Grants will be awarded in the fall and districts will have until April 2023 to submit purchase orders for EPA to refund.

Districts are among several entities that are eligible and can also partner with eligible contractors. Private school bus fleets can’t apply directly, but districts can partner with a private fleet that owns and operates their buses to replace buses that serve a district as long as they have an active contract. The company would need to continue serving the district for a minimum of 5 years from day of delivery.

Rebates for districts will be prioritized for districts that meet one or more criteria: they are a high needs school district in low-income areas (defined as having at least 20% SAIPE data from 2020); they are rural districts with NCES locale codes 43 and 42, or they are tribal school districts. 

Buses eligible for replacement must be 2010 or older diesel-powered school buses that will be scrapped if selected for funding. If a fleet has no eligible 2010 or older diesel school buses and is requesting zero-emission school buses up for replacement the fleet can either: scrap 2010 or older buses, scrap/sell/donate 2011 or newer internal combustion engine buses.

Buses eligible for replacement must have a gross vehicle rating of 10,001 lb or more; be operational at time of application submission; be owned by fleet receiving bus and must have provided bus service for district for at least 3 days/week during SY20-21 (note: this requirement exempts COVID-related school closures).

New replacement buses must have a battery electric, CNG or propane drivetrain; be EPA certified vehicle model year 2021 or newer; have a GWR 10,001 lb or more and not be ordered prior to receiving official notification of selection for EPA funding. The replacement bus must serve school district for 5 years; must meet federal safety standards; not be funded with other federal funds and be made available for inspection by EPA.

A class 7 or higher sized electric replacement bus that serves a prioritized district would be eligible for a $375,000 rebate. Applicants for a non-prioritized district would be $250,000 rebate. Prioritized districts can get a rebate of $20k for infrastructure cost/per bus. $13,000 for non-prioritized districts. Start reaching out to your electric utility right now if you are interested in this electric school bus infrastructure piece.