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
|Augusta School District
|Coleman School District
|Edgar School District
|Granton Area School District
|Lac du Flambeau #1 School District
|Lakeland UHS School District
|Lomira School District
|Melrose-Mindoro School District
|Minocqua J1 School District
|Mondovi School District
|Palmyra-Eagle Area School District
|Pepin Area School District
|Random Lake School District
|Wild Rose School District
|Winter School District
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 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.
|Online application. Submissions here
||May 20, August 19, 2022
|EPA reviews applications and begins the selection process
|EPA notifies applicants of selection and posts selectees online. Selectees can proceed with purchasing new buses and eligible infrastructure.
|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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com, for more information.