Local school districts have been drafted to serve at the front lines of our need to transition to smarter, clean transportation technologies. Greater New Haven Clean Cities, the “boots on the ground” for the U.S. Dept. of Energy on this, seeks to support you with useful information and assistance.
The EPA reports that a new round of funding will open soon for electric and propane school buses through its Clean School Bus Program. Connecticut school districts are eligible for up to $375,000 per bus for up to 25 buses.
Falls Village Regional School District 1, Sharon Regional District No. 1, Cornwall School District, and the Connecticut Technical Education and Career System were funded in the first round.
As you are likely aware, electric school buses are mandated throughout Connecticut by 2040 and by 2030 in some cases.
- While the first round of funding was by lottery, EPA reports that this round of funding will be competitive. No further details have been released but are expected soon.
- The State of Connecticut plans to supplement the EPA funding for bus acquisition and charging infrastructure. This program has not yet been finalized.
To increase the likelihood of your district benefitting from this funding, the EPA encourages school districts to focus on three tasks:
- Make sure your federal System for Award Management (SAM) registration is up to date.
- Conduct a school bus fleet analysis.
- Coordinate with your utility.
See the following for some helpful resources Greater New Haven Clean Cities has compiled for you.
There’s no way around it: the SAM system is a clunky, unwieldy bear of a system required for entities doing business with the federal government. Check to see if your district is already registered in the SAM system and its account is active. Here are some links that will help you get registered or update your registration:
Additionally, there is a team of free federally-authorized specialists here in Connecticut to support entities seeking federal funding. They may be of assistance to you:
- Connecticut Procurement Technical Assistance Center details
- Contact Us – CT Procurement Technical Assistance Center
Caution: You may receive multiple emails from companies with quasi-government-sounding names offering – for a fee – to help you register and/or renew. Avoid them.
School Bus Fleet Analysis
While switching from diesel to propane is relatively easy, electric school buses require extra attention to fueling infrastructure and range requirements. Probably the first source to go on this is your incumbent school bus contractor or in-house school transportation team. The industry is gearing up for this transition, so take advantage of that.
Two respected non-profits have put together some helpful resources:
- The Electric School Bus Initiative (World Resources Institute)
- Tools | Electric School Bus Initiative
- Step-by-Step Guide for School Bus Electrification
- The Electrification Coalition:
- Electrification Coalition: Electric School Buses
- The Dashboard for Rapid Vehicle Electrification (DRVE) Tool for Electric School Buses
For a wealth of videos and handouts, see Flipping the Switch on Electric School Buses on the Department of Energy’s website.
The EPA states it is “critical” to reach out to your utility as you prepare for bus electrification, and experience has borne this out in Connecticut.
Utility contacts for electric school buses in Connecticut are:
- UI – Marriott Dowden, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Eversource – Kevin Boughan, Kevin.Boughan@Eversource.com
- Wallingford Electric – Alex Boutsioulis (Chief Engineer) 203-294-2285
- Norwich Public – (860) 823-4514 – email@example.com
- Bozrah Light & Power / Groton Utilities – Aaron Brooks, firstname.lastname@example.org
Additionally, districts struggling with charging infrastructure are encouraged to contact The Joint Office of Energy and Transportation for technical assistance; their hotline is cleanschoolbusTA@nrel.gov. And if you are really stuck, you can reach out to the Clean Cities Tiger Team via John Gonzales at the National Renewable Energy Lab. (Please cc: us at email@example.com if you reach out for technical assistance so we can follow up).
Many school bus contractors are already preparing for school bus electrification, so we strongly advise that you contact your current contractor and seek their assistance as you plan for this transition.
Additionally, ACES, the New Haven area regional education service provider, is working with LEARN and other RESCs to support the rollout of EV charging infrastructure for school districts. Learn more about how they may be of assistance on our website.
School districts have been drafted to lead this transition to smarter, new transportation technologies. It’s a big ask for already overburdened school districts. We hope this information has been helpful to you. Please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if we can be of further assistance.