PROVIDENCE, RI – The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is announcing that under the new Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Rhode Island school districts and other eligible school bus operators and contractors can apply to begin replacing their fleets of school buses with clean, American-made, zero-emission buses through the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new Clean School Bus Program.
Beginning May 20 through Aug. 19, 2022, school districts that apply for electric school buses and are selected will be awarded between $250,000 to $375,000 for each bus and $13,000 to $20,000 for charging infrastructure per bus to replace their older, diesel-emitting school buses with new, clean, low, or no-emission school buses. School districts can apply for up to 25 buses in this first round of funding. This is a $5 billion investment over the next five years, secured through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
“As we work to address both air pollution and climate change, the most meaningful work we do is related to youth throughout Rhode Island. Seeing changes first-hand, and witnessing the important work being done, sends an important message to young people. Investing in new, clean electric school buses will send that message as well as improve the air quality in our neighborhoods across the state. We are proud that DEM’s Office of Air Resources is available as a resource for school districts to provide support and assistance during the application process,” said DEM Director Terry Gray. “We want as many Rhode Island school districts as possible to take advantage of this incredible opportunity to obtain new clean buses for our children to ride and to improve the quality of the air that we breathe every day. Thank you to our Rhode Island federal delegation for supporting the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which underpins EPA’s Clean School Bus Program.”
If a selected school district applies for a propane or compressed natural gas (CNG) powered bus, the awarded rebates range from $15,000 to $45,000. The program provides $5 billion over five years with the first round to provide $500 million for zero-emission and low-emissions buses. The EPA has created a list of prioritized school districts and those districts that meet the criteria for low income, rural, or Tribal school districts will be awarded the higher funding level and receive preference in the selection process. The six school districts on the EPA prioritization list are as follows:
- Central Falls
- New Shoreham
Diesel air pollution is linked to asthma and other health problems that hurt communities and cause students to miss school, particularly in communities of color and Tribal communities. New, zero-emission and low-emission buses will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but produce cleaner air for students, bus drivers, school staff working near the bus loading areas, and the communities that the buses drive through each day. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from these bus replacements will help to address the outsized role of the transportation sector on fueling climate change. In addition, zero-emission buses cost less for school districts to operate than diesel buses, and the electricity stored in zero-emission school buses can transmit energy back to the grid to meet extra energy demand or provide energy to communities during power outages.
This is the first competition that EPA is running through the Clean School Bus Program. The EPA also will launch a grant competition later this year, while further Clean School Bus competitions funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will be run every year over the next five years.
Please visit the EPA Clean School Bus Program website for information about the program. Questions about applying may be directed to CleanSchoolBus@epa.gov. School districts with questions may also contact Madeline Haines of DEM’s Office of Air Resources at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 401-222-2808, ext. 277-7033. The Office of Air Resources’ Mobile Sources Team has been busy reaching out to school districts, school bus transit companies, and school bus dealers to make these stakeholders aware of this funding opportunity so they can take advantage of it.