Governor Kathy Hochul today announced funding is now available for electric school bus charging infrastructure under the historic $4.2 billion Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act and through the New York School Bus Incentive Program. Support is available to help make installing Level 2 or Direct Current Fast Charging chargers and associated electrical upgrades more affordable for public school districts and the bus operators that contract with them. Today’s announcement supports the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85 percent by 2050 and New York State’s requirements that all school buses in New York State be zero-emission by 2035.

“Young people are at the center of the climate crisis, and enabling the transition to a zero-emission school bus fleet is not only a commitment to a greener future, but to the health and well-being of our students,” Governor Hochul said. “As school districts make the switch to electric buses, my administration is providing the resources necessary to transition as easily and affordably as possible.”

Administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the program is now accepting applications from public school districts and school bus operators. Funding is available on a first-come, first-served basis, and the level of funding provided is based on the number of buses a school district or bus operator has purchased or is currently purchasing. Amounts start at $25,000 per bus to cover hardware, customer-side electrical site upgrades, installation costs, and battery storage. Districts designated as priority districts can receive an additional $10,000 per bus. Priority districts are defined as high-need school districts by the New York State Education Department or those that serve disadvantaged communities as defined by the New York State Climate Justice Working Group.

As part of the process, applicants can receive up to an additional $30,000 per bus if they choose the option to complete a Fleet Electrification Plan which provides a comprehensive evaluation of existing fleet operations, analysis of current site electrical capabilities, and will serve as an action plan for electrifying the applicant’s entire fleet by 2035.

NYSERDA CEO and President Doreen M. Harris said, “New York’s continued investment in electric school buses represents a profound leap towards a cleaner future and will safeguard student health by reducing harmful emissions and improving local air quality. As schools begin to make the transition, comprehensive fleet planning can help districts understand their unique needs and best capitalize on this critical funding to help cover charging installation costs.”

Applicants must have purchased their electric school bus(es) after January 1, 2023, to be eligible for charging funds. Additionally, bus purchases must be funded through the district, a bus operator’s own resources, through New York School Bus Incentive Program (NYSBIP), or through New York Truck Voucher Incentive Program or the Environmental Protection Agency Clean School Bus Program. Other utility programs and federal incentives to help reduce the cost of electric buses and infrastructure include the Medium and Heavy Duty Make Ready Pilot and the Inflation Reduction Act 45W and 30C tax credits.

Complete eligibility criteria and rules for this charging infrastructure funding can be found here. For more information on NYSBIP and new charging incentives register for NYSERDA’s webinar on March 12, 2024, at 2:00 p.m. ET.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Governor Hochul’s sustained commitment to clean transportation is improving air quality and transforming the way we travel. Today’s announcement is another important step in supporting school districts and bus fleet owners by providing vital infrastructure upgrades to support zero-emission school bus fleets by 2035. Working with NYSERDA and other partners, DEC is leveraging Environmental Bond Act funding opportunities to advance climate action in communities statewide, one school bus at a time.” 

New York State Public Service Commission Chair Rory M. Christian said, “With actions like this, we see yet another example of Governor Hochul’s continued commitment to invest in a cleaner future. Making our school bus fleet cleaner will help provide our children with a cleaner environment and will drive the clean energy economy.”

Planning and Technical Assistance

Under the Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act (Bond Act), $5 million of the initial $100 million in funding for zero-emission buses is set aside to provide schools with technical assistance. Priority districts can have up to 100 percent of the cost of these plans covered while other school districts can have up to 75 percent of the cost covered. Planning resources such as the Electric School Bus Roadmap and the Electric School Bus Guidebook are also available to help explain costs, funding mechanisms, and policy options as well as factors and decisions that school districts and bus operators face when considering clean bus options.

State Senator Pete Harckham said, “To increase our efforts in reducing greenhouse gases, we need to continue transitioning to zero emission vehicles, including school buses. Electric school buses are healthier for students and, in the long run, more cost-effective for school districts and taxpayers. The time to ramp up our EV charging infrastructure statewide is now, however, and I applaud NYSERDA’s financial support for school districts that are working to convert their fleets to electric buses.”

State Senator Kevin Parker said, “Converting our state’s public school bus fleets to electric buses is a critical component to achieve the clean transportation goals of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. We are making these investments to ensure a more environmentally-just New York and an important step forward in supporting school districts making this transition.”

State Senator Shelley B. Mayer said, “I am very pleased that the Environmental Bond Act funding will now be available to help ease the transition to electric school buses for school districts throughout New York State. As we face the increasingly devastating impacts of climate change, it is essential that we take steps to reduce the amount of carbon we release into the atmosphere and, at the same time, ensure the process is smooth for school districts and without financial burden. I am committed to making sure school districts know what funding is available to them and how to access it as they make their transition into a more sustainable future. The funding available through the Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act will help ensure the steps to improving our community are possible.”  

State Senator Tim Kennedy said, “I strongly encourage school districts and bus operators across New York to take advantage of this funding opportunity to help offset the costs of a statewide transition to electric school buses.  This funding is specifically designed to ensure that districts, especially those that are high-need, have access to assistance while upgrading fleets and infrastructure in order to meet our ambitious climate goals.”

Assemblymember Didi Barrett said, “When we passed the Environmental Bond Act, we committed to providing substantial investments in our new, green economy, and I am pleased to see that this funding is now available to expand charging infrastructure for electric school buses. It is vital that New York State provide the necessary guidance, resources, and funding to support school districts in their transition to zero-emission school buses.”

Assemblymember Patricia Fahy said, “Today’s announcement is a welcomed ‘breath of fresh air’ for students and school districts across New York. New Yorkers overwhelmingly approved the Environmental Bond Act, and I’m thrilled to see a portion of its funding going to alleviate the cost burden on local school districts for EV bus charging equipment. Retiring diesel-powered buses not only reduces a major public health risk for our students and disadvantaged communities — it is also critical to meeting New York’s nation-leading climate mandates. I commend Governor Hochul for recognizing the need to assist our school districts amid this transition so that cleaner air becomes a reality for more New York students in the years to come.”

Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick said, “As we continue to reduce air pollution, especially in areas that directly impact children, electric school buses require an expansion of charging infrastructure. This investment of Environmental Bond Act resources is a critical component of our efforts to meet our environmental goals included in the state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. I look forward to our shared commitment to ensure clean air and clean water for all New Yorkers.”

Assemblymember Michael R. Benedetto said, “I am excited about the funding available to upgrade infrastructure for electric school buses. This program has the potential to facilitate their transition, ultimately reducing greenhouse emissions.”

President of the New York League of Conservation Voters Julie Tighe said, “School districts across the state are already beginning their ESB journey with the help of the New York School Bus Incentive Program, and soon they’ll reap the benefits of cleaner air and healthier school children. We are thrilled to see Bond Act funding now opening up for charging infrastructure and we applaud Governor Hochul for making New York an ESB state and ensuring school districts have the resources they need.”

Superintendent at the Lake George Central School District John Luthringer said, “Lake George is thrilled to be one of the first districts to receive school bus voucher funding through the NY School Bus Incentive Program and we look forward to applying for additional financial support through the charging program. As school districts continue to work toward meeting the state’s requirements for purchasing electric buses, these funding opportunities are incredibly important for schools to take advantage of, and Lake George is excited to be a part of it!”

Assistant Superintendent for Business at the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns Brian Fried said, “It’s been challenging for school districts to be fiscally responsible and environmentally conscious all at the same time. Transitioning to electric school buses allows us to modernize our transportation infrastructure while helping to minimize our reliance on fossil fuels. We’re pleased to embark on this process to model sustainability practices for our kids without additional burdensome school taxes for our community.”

Suffolk Transportation Services Chief Operating Officer and President of NYSBCA Thomas W. Smith said, “As we look toward growing our electric school bus fleet, it is exciting news that funding will be available to help with the cost of chargers and utility upgrades to provide a swifter path toward school bus electrification. Infrastructure is a significant component in the deployment of the State’s school bus electrification initiative. We look forward to continuing to work with NYSERDA to support the transition to all-electric school bus fleets.

Bond Act Funding for Electric Buses

A total of $500 million is earmarked in the Bond Act for zero-emission school bus and infrastructure grants and today’s announcement is part of the initial $100 million made available in November. To date, the grant opportunity attracted 20 applications for 97 buses totaling $22 million and school bus manufacturers and bus dealers can continue to apply on a rolling basis. NYSBIP eligibility guidelines were open for public comment through September 1, 2023, and published on September 28, 2023, following robust Bond Act public engagement processes. To receive the latest information about upcoming webinars and other program news, sign-up for updates here.

The NYSBIP complements the State’s ongoing investments in clean transportation of nearly $3 billion over the next five years and adoption of clean car and clean truck regulations that require 100 percent zero-emission passenger car and light-duty truck sales by 2035. Active medium- and heavy-duty truck initiatives include zero-emission truck purchase vouchers through the New York Truck Voucher Incentive Program (NYTVIP) and the New York City Clean Trucks Program, the “EV Make Ready” initiative to help expand electric vehicle use, fleet assessment services and the New York Clean Transportation Prizes.

New York State’s Nation-Leading Climate Plan

New York State’s climate agenda calls for an orderly and just transition that creates family-sustaining jobs, continues to foster a green economy across all sectors and ensures that at least 35 percent, with a goal of 40 percent, of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities. Guided by some of the nation’s most aggressive climate and clean energy initiatives, New York is advancing a suite of efforts – including the New York Cap-and-Invest program (NYCI) and other complementary policies – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and 85 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels. New York is also on a path to achieving a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and economywide carbon neutrality by mid-century. A cornerstone of this transition is New York’s unprecedented clean energy investments, including more than $40 billion in 64 large-scale renewable and transmission projects across the State, $6.8 billion to reduce building emissions, $3.3 billion to scale up solar, nearly $3 billion for clean transportation initiatives and over $2 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. These and other investments are supporting more than 170,000 jobs in New York’s clean energy sector as of 2022 and over 3,000 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality, New York also adopted zero-emission vehicle regulations, including requiring all new passenger cars and light-duty trucks sold in the State be zero emission by 2035. Partnerships are continuing to advance New York’s climate action with more than 400 registered and more than 130 certified Climate Smart Communities, nearly 500 Clean Energy Communities, and the State’s largest community air monitoring initiative in 10 disadvantaged communities across the State to help target air pollution and combat climate change.

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