Wisconsin school buses are going electric!

Wisconsin school buses are going electric!

The new fleet will ensure cleaner air and protect children’s health.

This month, the Biden-Harris Administration announced nearly $1 billion in Clean School Bus Rebate Awards for 389 school districts in the country. Wisconsin School districts will receive $25.6 million to replace 65 diesel school buses with new electric school buses. Electric buses can run on renewable energy from solar and wind farms – instead of imported diesel fuel – resulting in zero emissions and lower energy costs. The $25.6 million award represents a significant milestone for Wisconsin and puts the state on a path to cleaner, healthier, and more affordable transportation.

The new zero-emission school buses must be in service by October 2024 and will save Wisconsin School Districts more than $11 million in fuel and maintenance costs over the life of the buses. In addition to the cost savings, zero-emission buses provide the following benefits:

  • Cleaner air by eliminating school bus exhaust, which is linked to asthma.
  • Reduced health risks, especially for children whose lungs are still developing.
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change.
  • Grid resilience. Using bidirectional chargers, school buses can store energy for distribution to the grid when needed.

Zero-emission vehicles are a proven technology in the United States, where electric buses have been operating successfully in Michigan, Minnesota, and Alaska. Wisconsin’s first sixty-five electric school buses will serve fifteen rural school districts in Buffalo, Clark, Dodge, Eau Claire, Jackson, Jefferson, Marathon, Marinette, Oneida, Pepin, Sheboygan, Vilas, Waushara, and Winnebago counties. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded funds through a lottery that prioritized applications from low-income, rural, tribal, and high-needs school districts. Nearly 200 Wisconsin school districts were on the priority list.

Here is the list of school districts that will receive new electric school buses:

EPA 2022 Clean School Bus Rebates Awards for zero-emission buses – Wisconsin
School District Name Total Number of
Buses Requested
Total Rebate
Amount Awarded
Augusta School District 3 $1,185,000.00
Coleman School District 2 $790,000.00
Edgar School District 1 $395,000.00
Granton Area School District 5 $1,885,000.00
Lac du Flambeau #1 School District 10 $3,950,000.00
Lakeland UHS School District 10 $3,950,000.00
Lomira School District 4 $1,580,000.00
Melrose-Mindoro School District 1 $395,000.00
Minocqua J1 School District 12 $4,740,000.00
Mondovi School District 5 $1,975,000.00
Palmyra-Eagle Area School District 6 $2,370,000.00
Pepin Area School District 1 $395,000.00
Random Lake School District 1 $395,000.00
Wild Rose School District 2 $790,000.00
Winter School District 2 $790,000.00

 

The $1 billion School Bus Rebate Awards are the first round of funding from the $5 billion Clean School Bus Program of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) signed by President Biden last November. More funding opportunities for additional clean school buses will be announced in the future. Subscribe to RENEW’s Newsletter to stay updated on the Clean School Bus Program.

 

The Energy Future of Wisconsin is Bright: RENEW Staff Joined President Biden to Celebrate Inflation Reduction Act

The Energy Future of Wisconsin is Bright: RENEW Staff Joined President Biden to Celebrate Inflation Reduction Act

With an invitation extended by Governor Tony Evers, RENEW’s Interim Executive Director, Jessica Niekrasz, and Emerging Technology Director, Francisco Sayu, joined President Biden, his cabinet, and lawmakers at the White House on Tuesday, September 13, to celebrate the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

The celebration – including a surprise appearance by James and Kim Taylor – was a stunning reminder of our collective power to accomplish “big things” when we work together. “Today offers proof that the soul of America is vibrant, the future of America is bright, and the promise of America is real,” Biden said during his speech on the South Lawn.

RENEW applauds the Biden administration for signing the IRA – the most significant climate legislation ever passed in the U.S. The IRA includes $369 billion to help families save money on energy, improve quality of life, create stable jobs, and fight climate change by reducing carbon emissions.  

RENEW is dedicated to building a stronger, healthier, more vibrant Wisconsin through the advancement of renewable energy. The clean energy investments in the IRA will boost renewable energy and beneficial electrification in Wisconsin, limiting our dependence on imported gas and petroleum. This market transformation is needed to begin transitioning our economy away from fossil fuels that bleed our state’s economy by $14 billion yearly.

Wisconsin Families that take advantage of the clean energy incentives and electric vehicle tax credits in the IRA could save more than $1,000 per year. Here are some of the benefits available to Wisconsin residents:

  • Up to $14,000 in direct consumer rebates for families to buy heat pumps or other energy-efficient home appliances, saving families at least $350 per year.
  • 30% tax credit to install rooftop solar systems, saving families $9,000 over the system’s life or at least $300 per year.
  • Up to $7,500 in tax credits for new electric vehicles and $4,000 for used electric vehicles, helping families save $950 per year.

The clean energy investments in the IRA support the Governor’s climate goals, as outlined in Wisconsin’s Clean Energy Plan. These investments will help power homes, businesses, and communities with homegrown renewable energy, improve health outcomes, and create stable jobs for residents of Wisconsin. 

RENEW was honored to be at the White House representing the great state of Wisconsin and thanks Governor Tony Evers for this incredible opportunity.  Inclusion at this historic celebration is a testament to the incredible work the RENEW team has been doing for over thirty years. We look forward to helping our state take advantage of the opportunities offered by the IRA, and will continue to support access to clean energy for families, businesses, and communities in Wisconsin. 

Wisconsin could receive $78.65 Million for electric vehicle charging infrastructure

Wisconsin could receive $78.65 Million for electric vehicle charging infrastructure

See how the state plans to spend these funds.

The Wisconsin Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (WEVI) Plan is Wisconsin’s version of the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Plan – a Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) program signed by the Biden administration last year. The NEVI program provides funding to states to strategically deploy electric vehicle (EV) charging stations to facilitate access and reliability. The programs must also support the Justice40 Initiative, which states that at least forty percent of federal investments in climate and clean energy infrastructure benefits are distributed to disadvantaged communities.

The Wisconsin Electrification Initiative (WIEV) within the Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is ready to finalize its plan, which outlines how Wisconsin will spend the $78.65 Million of available funding to build, operate and maintain Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations in the State. This funding is part of a $7.5 billion package to create a national network of 500,000 EV chargers by 2030.

The NEVI funding will be distributed over five years (2022 – 2026). The first round of funding will prioritize the development of EV charging stations every 50 miles along the State’s portions of the Interstate Highway System within one travel mile of the Interstate. The new charging stations must have at least four EV fast charging ports. 

The NEVI program also allocates $2.5 billion for discretionary grants to support charging stations along Alternative Fuel Corridors (AFCs) and community charging grants. The Joint Office of Energy and Transportation will provide additional guidance for discretionary grants in Fall 2022.

WisDOT has opened the Wisconsin Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Plan for public input. Wisconsin residents are encouraged to send comments and feedback using this link by July 24, 2022.

Wisconsin’s EV infrastructure plan is thorough with a smart methodology to identify potential locations for charging stations. However, RENEW would like to see more emphasis on fulfilling the goals of the Justice40 initiative.

Wisconsin has an incredible opportunity to ensure that all communities can benefit from these federal infrastructure investments. RENEW recommends that the WEVI plan allocate adequate resources for outreach to disadvantaged communities. The plan should apportion a budget to hire community outreach professionals that have access to these communities and the organizations that serve them. Building these partnerships will ensure meaningful community engagement, especially concerning BIPOC, rural, limited English proficiency, and low-income communities.

While EVs have a higher upfront cost than internal combustion vehicles, owners can save a lot on fuel and maintenance costs. Still, it can be easy to discount the benefits or impact of EV charging infrastructure for non-EV owners in disadvantaged communities. However, with car manufacturers committing to electric transportation, including GM pledging to be all-electric by 2035 and Ford by 2030, EV charging infrastructure will soon be vital in all reaches of the state. Bringing a complete representation of voices to the table during the planning, implementation, and evaluation of the WEVI plan will ensure equitable participation and access to the benefits of EV infrastructure.

An investment in EV infrastructure is an investment in Wisconsin’s future, and we encourage everyone to engage in this planning process by sending comments and feedback to WisDOT.

RENEW Wisconsin at the 31st MREA Energy Fair

RENEW Wisconsin at the 31st MREA Energy Fair

Last weekend, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) hosted the 31st Annual Energy Fair, bringing people together to learn about sustainability and clean energy, connect with others, and take action toward a sustainable future. The Fair featured workshops, exhibitors, live music, inspiring keynote speakers, family fun, great local food, and more. 

RENEW staff presented some compelling workshops and you can download slides from their presentations below.

A Zero-Carbon Grid – How We Get There

Andrew Kell, RENEW Policy Analyst, discussed zero-carbon goals and ongoing planning efforts in Wisconsin. Andrew also discussed a joint study to address policy considerations of this clean energy transition.

Health Benefits of Electric Vehicle Adoption

Christina Zordani, Electric Vehicle Policy Intern at RENEW, discussed a Wisconsin with 100% clean-power electric vehicle adoption. In this workshop, attendees learned how a renewable-powered transportation network would bring significant economic and health benefits to Wisconsin.

Vehicle-to-Grid: Opportunities and Challenges

Francisco Sayu, RENEW Emerging Technology Director, discussed how Vehicle-to-Grid technology unlocks the energy stored in electric vehicles and opens opportunities for energy trading, energy management, and grid resiliency. The workshop delved into two case studies.

Energy Policy and Politics in Wisconsin

 Jim Boullion, RENEW Government Affairs Director, reviewed the busiest legislative session for energy-related issues in many years, including solar financing, community solar, and electric vehicle rules. 

Small Solar Farms in Wisconsin – Why More Are Needed

Michael Vickerman, RENEW Policy Director, discussed initiatives to expand Wisconsin’s solar marketplace’s middle tier: offsite arrays serving groups of self-selecting customers or whole communities across Wisconsin.

A Clean Energy Toolkit for Local Governments

Sam Dunaiski, RENEW Resources Director, discussed towns, cities, and counties in WI that are building the clean energy economy. By investing in renewables, WI communities are reducing carbon emissions, investing locally, and creating energy independence.

RENEW Celebrates Memorial Day in Monona

RENEW Celebrates Memorial Day in Monona

On Monday, May 30th, RENEW Wisconsin was honored to be able to participate in the Monona (WI) Memorial Day parade. Emerging Technology Director Francisco Sayu and Distributed Resources Director Sam Dunaiski were in attendance with their family members and a few large bags of candy.

The parade offered staff members a chance to get out and meet with members of the community and honor those Americans who gave their lives for their country.

“The parade was a good reminder of the sacrifices made to protect our people and our collective capacity for accomplishing great things,” said Sayu. “A simple – but meaningful – example of our ability to come together to celebrate our progress and envision a bright future – despite our differences.”

Friend of the organization, Geoff Hoffman, owner of Hoffman Manufacturing, offered his custom-redesigned, all-electric DeLorean to use as the RENEW vehicle for the parade. The car was an instant hit with many parade-goers, even before many realized it was an electric vehicle (EV). 

“It was great to attend the parade again after a two-year COVID hiatus,” stated Hoffman. “This event is all about honoring the folks that have served and sacrificed for us.”

RENEW staff answered dozens of questions from the public about EVs and how using renewable energy for EV charging could help us achieve deep decarbonization of our transportation sector. More importantly, the parade offered an opportunity for staff to illustrate the benefits of a decarbonized economy for Wisconsinites.

“We need more opportunities to find common ground,” continued Sayu. “I enjoyed seeing so many different families coming together to share this experience.”

RENEW staff had a fantastic time at the parade and are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to participate. We hope we opened a few minds to renewable energy and electric vehicles, and we had a great time doing it!

Apply now for a Clean School Bus in your Community: the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) School Bus Rebates

Apply now for a Clean School Bus in your Community: the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) School Bus Rebates

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), was signed last November. It provides $5 billion to replace existing school buses with clean and zero-emission (ZE) school buses. This funding administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can benefit school districts in Wisconsin by providing up to 100% of the cost of electric school buses, reducing transportation costs by 60%, and improving air quality throughout Wisconsin communities.

Why Clean School Buses? 

School buses collectively travel over three billion miles each year, providing the safest transportation to and from school for more than 25 million American children every day. Exhaust from these buses harms human health, especially for children who have faster breathing rates than adults and whose lungs are not yet fully developed. The Clean School Bus Rebates (CSB Rebates) will fund the replacement of existing diesel and gas-powered buses with cleaner buses that result in better air quality, bus loading areas, and the community in general.

Cleaner buses such as those powered with electricity (electric buses) get the equivalent of 17 miles per gallon (MPG) compared to 6 MPG for diesel buses, providing average fuel and maintenance savings of $170,000 across the lifecycle of the bus. Wisconsin’s electric grid is increasingly powered by renewable energy sources like solar and wind. Transitioning away from diesel and gasoline to local – homegrown energy – will reduce air pollution and strengthen local economies.

2022 Clean School Bus Rebates Overview

The first $500 million of the Clean School Bus Program will be awarded as lottery rebates. The lottery will prioritize applications from low-income, rural, tribal, and/or high-needs school districts. Nearly 200 Wisconsin school districts are on the priority list. School Districts can receive up to $375,000 rebate per school bus (up to 25 buses per district) and $20,000 for EV chargers. The deadline to apply for this year’s rebate program is August 19, 2022.

Important Dates

Activity Date
Online application. Submissions here May 20, August 19, 2022
EPA reviews applications and begins the selection process September 2022
EPA notifies applicants of selection and posts selectees online. Selectees can proceed with purchasing new buses and eligible infrastructure. October 2022
Selectees submit Payment Request Forms with purchase orders  October 2022 – April 2023
Deadline to receive new buses, install EV chargers, replace old buses, and submit final documentation. October 2024

Eligible Applicants

The following entities are eligible to apply for EPA school bus rebates:

  • State and local governmental entities provide bus services, such as public school districts, including charter schools, with an NCES District ID.
  • Eligible contractors such as for-profit or nonprofit entities that can sell or finance clean or ZE school buses or related charging infrastructure to school bus owners.
  • Nonprofit school transportation associations
  • Indian tribes, tribal organizations, or tribally controlled schools are responsible for purchasing school buses or providing school bus service for a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) funded school.

To be eligible for replacement, old school buses must:

  • Have a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 10,001 lbs. or more
  • Be operational at the time of application submission – Able to start, move in all directions, and have all operational parts
  • Have provided bus service to a public school district for at least three days/week on average during the 2021/2022 school year at the time of applying, excluding COVID-related school closures
  • If selected for replacement, a fleet can either:
    • Scrap 2010 or older internal combustion engine buses; or
    • Scrap, sell or donate 2011 or newer internal combustion engine buses.

Eligible replacement buses must meet the following criteria:

  • Have a battery-electric, CNG, or propane drivetrain
  • Be EPA certified vehicle model year 2021 or newer
  • Have a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 10,001 lbs. or more
  • Not be ordered before receiving official notification of selection for EPA funding
  • Be purchased, not leased or leased-to-own
  • Serve the school district listed on the application for at least five years from delivery.

For questions about eligibility, please contact cleanschoolbus@epa.gov.  

Selection Process and Prioritization

The Clean School Bus Program prioritizes high-need school districts. Applicants that serve a prioritized school district will be offered more funding per bus and receive preference in the selection process. 

Here is a list of prioritized school districts in Wisconsin. 

Schools may also contact Francisco Sayu, Emerging Technologies Director RENEW Wisconsin at francisco@renewwisconsin.org, for more information.