Three Key Tips for Landing Electric School Bus Funding

ESB Wordle

With Federal Clean School Bus Funding for 5 years (2022-2027), my advice: apply for ESB funds whether or not you’re on EPA’s prioritized list. Why? Many of the prioritized districts won’t yet be interested. Also, the EPA may expand each round’s funding well beyond the current pot if spurred by enough applications (their program is for five billion over five years). If you missed last month’s newsletter, here are five reasons to buy ESB’s rather than propane.


1.) Bookmark key parts of EPA’s Clean School Bus Program website (there is so much there!). Remember, winners will be named via a lottery of eligible applications, to be announced in October, and rebates will be issued up front after purchase orders are placed. Up front payment helps level the playing field between rich and poor districts — well done, EPA!

2.) Get your number now. You can’t apply without it. It replaces the DUNS number system long used by entities receiving funds from the federal government. My colleague Neil and I are meeting virtually this week with a Transportation Director this Friday to help them get theirs.

3.) Engage purposefully with your bus yard’s utility (or help districts and Tribes do that). As I write, I’m in a small Oregon town — small towns’ school districts are the great majority of the EPA’s prioritized list — that is served by its own municipal electric department. But I found in visiting the Transportation Director that their bus yard is (double take) a Pacific Power customer. So, her meetings and relationship will be with Pacific Power. Be crystal clear on meeting with the right utility; they are becoming a fuel supplier to your fleet. Take a look at World Resources Institute’s Power Planning Guide. I also recommend this federal publication Toolkit For Planning and Funding Electric Mobility Infrastructure. It’s lengthy, but the sections on medium duty and heavy duty (MD and HD) apply to electric school buses.

Let’s take note of this first of its kind lawsuit against diesel school bus exhaust. The suit, led by the Attorney General of New York against three New York City school bus companies, is for its diesel buses violating idling laws, thereby polluting the air and harming the health particularly of low income, Black and brown children. Are you old enough, as I am, to remember years of smoke-filled restaurants, workplaces and airplanes? And how that changed, via federal requirements, to no smoking in those public places, and all of us then getting to breathe cleaner, healthier air?

To clarify, as I’ve done before: I love school buses in general, regardless of fuel type, because they hold public education together, and therefore our society. I respect the legions of bus drivers and Transportation Directors who bleed yellow, i.e. are deeply devoted to children and their safe transport, often for low pay. I do see the zero emissions of ESB’s as supporting their health, as well as children’s health. And I grieve the ghastly school shooting that just happened — I have to mention that, since it hurts all of our hearts, and even our collective mental health.

Learn more about our Electric Bus Learning Project here

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