All About Series | November 7, 2022
All About the Clean School Bus Program

With up to $5 billion in funding, the Clean School Bus Program is a historic opportunity to make electric school buses the American standard.

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Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at a lectern in front of two electric school buses.

Background

After years of tireless advocacy by individuals and organizations nationwide, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021 delivered a major win for students with the creation of the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program (CSBP). 

This historic program includes up to $5 billion in funds for electric school buses over the next five years, bringing cleaner air to students across the country. 

On October 26, EPA released a list of 2022 Rebate award recipients and a waitlist for the first round of Clean School Bus Program Funding, with 95% of awards going to electric school buses. Due to overwhelming demand for electric school buses, EPA nearly doubled its initial $500 million rebate offering and instead made $956 million dollars available for low- and zero-emission school buses. Thanks to these awards, a zero-tailpipe-emissions electric school bus is on the way to every state

Whether you were awarded a rebate or not, you may be thinking, now what? Here are a few resources to get you started. 

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A map of the U.S., showing states where Clean School Bus Program funds were awarded.

Getting started

Award recipients have until April 2023 to submit purchase orders demonstrating that new buses and eligible infrastructure have been ordered. Find out more information in your award letter or on EPA’s website.  

Here are three tips to get you started (find a full list of tips here): 

  1. Designate a project manager and schedule recurring meetings with your internal team.  
  2. Start infrastructure planning immediately with your electric utility
  3. Compare available bus models and identify training needs to incorporate into a contract (RFI).

Additional Funding 

If you purchase an electric or alternative fuel bus, your district might be eligible for even more money through tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act that become available January 1, 2023. Tax-exempt entities, like school districts, will qualify for some of the tax credit provisions through direct pay or a transfer of credits. Tax credits may include 45W for Qualified Commercial Clean Vehicles (up to $40,000 per electric bus purchased – read this 2-pager) and 30C for Alternative Fuel Refueling Property (up to $100,000 per charger, for low-income or non-urban census tracts  – read this 2-pager).

EPA expects to launch a Clean School Bus Program 2023 Grant program application in late 2022 or early 2023. You can also explore financing and funding options at the state, local, and utility level.

Resources

School districts at any stage can get started with the following tools and resources: 

Technical Assistance 

For the rest of the year, WRI’s Electric School Bus Initiative is offering free, independent support to all school districts through Office Hours twice a week. Registration is requested for both Group Office Hours and 1:1 Appointments

Many other organizations provide technical assistance and education on electric school buses – view a list of WRI’s partners here. For example, you can join CALSTART’s Electric School Bus Working Groups, which are held quarterly and divided up by EPA region. You can also seek assistance from EPA and its partnersClean Cities Coalitions, and local organizations with EV expertise. 

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