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.

 

The Case for Electrification in Rural Wisconsin

The Case for Electrification in Rural Wisconsin

Co-author: Jenna Greene

Early April 2022, two people were seriously injured in an explosion caused by attempting to light a propane furnace in their Marinette County home. Approximately 253,000 (primarily rural) households in Wisconsin use propane to heat their homes, putting public safety at risk and creating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that negatively impact human health. In addition, propane is currently the most expensive fuel type for Wisconsin residents. Air-source heat pumps can be a safe, efficient, and affordable alternative to propane heat. Wisconsin needs policies, programs, and incentives that accelerate this transition for rural customers. 

An air-source heat pump (ASHP) is an electrically powered heating and cooling device that moves heat, rather than generating it, to provide comfortable building temperatures. ASHPs operate “in reverse” in the summer to provide cooling (similar to a refrigerator). Cold-climate air source heat pumps have made significant technological advances in recent years; today, ASHPs can operate in temperatures as low as -22 degrees Fahrenheit. Some local Wisconsin residents and nonprofit organizations are already switching to ASHPs for heating and cooling.

Heating homes with fossil fuels create emissions that impact human health and contribute to climate change – 8% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Wisconsin come from the residential sector. Climate change threatens the economy in many ways, including increased flooding and storm damage, altered crop yields, lost labor productivity, and strained energy systems. Wisconsin’s electric grid is increasingly powered by renewable energy sources like solar and wind. Transitioning away from propane heat will increasingly reduce GHG emissions. 

In 2021, Wisconsin imported 41,000 barrels of propane – valued at more than four million dollars. Spending money on imported energy resources weakens local economies and burdens household budgets. Many Wisconsin residents feel the effects of rising fossil fuel costs, with propane projected to be the most expensive fuel source in 2021-2022. Transitioning to air-source heat pumps can lower annual heating and cooling costs and free Wisconsinites from the volatility of imported fossil fuels.  

ASHPs provide safe, efficient, and affordable home heating and cooling. Electricity is generated off-site and delivered to homes, which dramatically lowers the safety risk to families from on-site propane combustion. High-efficiency heat pumps can convert one British Thermal Unit (BTU) of electricity into three BTUs of heating or cooling – significantly more efficient than gas furnaces at most temperatures. ASHPs are also cost-effective compared with propane use. ASHP adopters can save up to $750 per year on heating and cooling costs. We need financing mechanisms to allow households and businesses to finance energy efficiency retrofits and ASHP installations with affordable upfront payments. 

Many rural Wisconsin households use propane or heating oil to heat their homes which is expensive, puts people at risk, and sends millions of dollars out of state each year. Wisconsin utilities, policymakers, and Focus on Energy should expand programs to transition households from propane heating to efficient electric heating, saving people money, reducing hazards, and improving health outcomes in rural communities.