Step-by-Step Guide | October 17, 2022
Step 2.2: Develop Charging Infrastructure Plan


School districts often underestimate the time it will take to upgrade a facility and install the required charging infrastructure, so you should start planning for charging as early in the process as possible, concurrently with the previous steps in this guide. You may need to hire an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) firm or electrical design consultant if you will require a new service connection. 

Strategic, long-term planning for future infrastructure needs in coordination with your electric utility can help to minimize costs, streamline the interconnection process and reduce project timelines for future deployments.

Charging an electric school bus will impact your electric utility bills. Your electric utility can provide insight on your current rate structure and any changes as a result of charging, whether you are subject to demand rates, and the best times to charge your buses. 

For example, managed charging will enable you to take advantage of favorable time-of-use rates, avoid peak demand periods or reduce your site-specific peak demand by smoothing your fleet’s energy demand over the available charging window. Additionally, connecting your charging infrastructure to the electric grid will require going through a permitting and interconnection process, which can take up to 18 months.

Simultaneous with the development of your charging plan, you should consider the potential for energy efficiency upgrades, electrification projects such as heat pumps, and complementary technology like solar, stationary storage and microgrids while you are already upgrading existing electrical systems and applying for interconnection or new service. 

These technologies can bring down charging costs and/or provide additional revenue streams; for example, through the sale of renewable energy credits (RECs) or solar leasing agreements. They can also expand community benefits and equitable implementation; for example, through the siting of a resilience hub or a community solar project for surrounding communities. 

There are many programs and incentives to help schools with energy efficiency, electrification and clean energy projects city and state energy offices may be able to support planning for larger efforts.

Things to do: 

  • Hire a project manager or consultant to lead planning, if needed 
  • Set up recurring meetings and a site visit with your electric utility 
  • Review your electric utility bill and understand current and future rates 
  • Identify interconnection processes and requirements 
  • Discuss how solar, stationary storage and microgrids could complement fleet electrification and provide ancillary benefits to the school district and community 
  • Discuss the potential to improve site energy efficiency and pursue other electrification projects 
  • Develop a charging infrastructure plan 
  • Incorporate as-built (final) drawings into your project plan as deliverables so that they can be referenced later with accurate depictions of the above-ground and underground infrastructure installed at the site 

Questions to consider: 

  • Who within the school district is the current point of contact for electric utility relations?  
  • Who is your electric utility account representative? Does the electric utility have a fleet electrification expert who should also be involved? 
  • What is your current rate structure? Are you currently subject to demand rates? 
  • Does your electric utility have an EV-specific or time-of-use (TOU) rate? Does the TOU rate require a dedicated/separate meter? 
  • How long will the application for new service or upgrades take? 
  • Are there ways to plan to “future-proof” your facility, for example, by trenching a larger area than initially needed and laying the wiring for future installations? 
  • Are there ways to incorporate a modular design that enables more flexibility and limits construction needs by prioritizing above-ground infrastructure installation where feasible? 
  • Are you interested in solar, storage, efficiency or other energy upgrades? Are there federal, state or local incentives and programs available to subsidize the upfront costs of upgrades? 
  • Do you have enough roof space for solar, or would canopies benefit both vehicle parking and solar deployment through complementary space utilization? 

Potential stakeholders: 

  • District transportation director 
  • Electric utility representative 
  • District facilities manager 
  • District energy manager 
  • District fleet manager 
  • District budget and operations staff 
  • School bus contractor (if applicable) 
  • Bus drivers, maintenance workers and associated union representatives 
  • Community or technical partners with expertise in transportation electrification 
  • City and state employees that manage sustainability, climate and/or clean energy programs 


  • Electric Vehicle Make-Ready Programs WRI's Electric School Bus Initiative: This resource contains information on core program components and how Make-Ready programs can support the build-out of essential EV charging infrastructure. 
  • Charge Management Software Catalog WRI's Electric School Bus Initiative: This catalog provides detailed snapshots of different charge management software providers and software features.
  • All About Charging Infrastructure video series WRI's Electric School Bus Initiative: This series of 2-3 minute videos takes you on-site at a bus depot in New York City to show firsthand the infrastructure needed to power electric school buses. 
  • Power Planner for Electric School Bus Deployment: Nine Key Steps for School Districts WRI's Electric School Bus Initiative: This document is intended as a resource for school districts to prepare for and engage in discussions with electric utilities about the many steps required to electrify your school bus fleet. ​ 
  • Electric Vehicle Charging Guidebook for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Fleets San Diego Gas & Electric Company: An overview to all things charging for fleets, including identifying specific charging needs, estimating basic load profile, purchasing electricity while managing costs, selecting between charger options and more. ​ 
  • Working with Your Electric Utility U.S. Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center: This 10-minute video provides an overview of how to work with your electric utility on school bus electrification. 
  • Utility Rate Structures U.S. Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center: This 6-minute video will help you to understand your electric utility bill and how to understand potential bill changes due to electric school buses. 
  • Solar for All Schools Generation180: Toolkits and resources for schools that are interested in solar.