States Consider School Buses in Plans for Volkswagen Funds

States Consider School Buses in Plans for Volkswagen Funds

School Transportation News has reviewed information from all 50 U.S. states to determine how much each one planned to spend on school bus replacements with its share of Volkswagen Mitigation Trust funding.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released an Environmental Trust Agreement for State Beneficiaries that outlines the funding each state is allotted from the total pot of over $2.9 billion and reviews guidelines for eligible projects. Located in Appendix D-2, Environmental Mitigation Action 2 covers Class 4-8 school, transit and shuttle buses.

Basic requirements are that school buses that are eligible for replacement or repower are a model-year 2009 or older Type A, Type C or Type D, be powered by diesel and also weigh over 14,001 pounds gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). Government- or public-school-owned buses, as well as privately owned buses under contract with a public school district, are eligible to receive up to 100 percent funding. Nongovernment owned vehicles, meanwhile, can be funded at 25 to 75 percent, depending on the fuel type of the replacement bus or drivetrain.

CNG, propane, electric or hybrid are listed as examples of acceptable alternative fuels. Alternative fueling infrastructure is not eligible for funding, though electric charging equipment may be depending on the state plan. All vehicles being replaced must also be scrapped.

Each state receives no less than $8 million, while $55 million is earmarked for Native American tribes. The funding can be spent over a 3- to 10-year period. Each state may also designate some of its funding for its individual Diesel Emissions Reduction Act program, through which school bus replacement can also be funded.

Alabama accepted comments on the use of its almost $25.5 million until May, but no draft plan has yet been released as of this report. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs said that the goals of the plan include choosing domestic fuels, reducing oxides of nitrogen (NOx) in areas with vulnerable populations and in consideration of long-term economic development in the state.

“The replacement vehicle with the lowest sticker price may not be the least expensive once fuel and maintenance are factored into the cost. Purchasing an alternative fuel vehicle might cost more up front, but it may be a better investment in the long run and keep more money in your local economy,” the Alabama plan noted.

One commenter asked if a district could end a contract for diesel buses and use VW funds to purchase new alt-fuel buses. The ADECA said that would not be allowed, since the buses being replaced would need to be scrapped, per the VW Mitigation Plan guidelines.

In its draft plan, Alaska, which receives just over $8 million, outlined its goal to employ a competitive application process. The Alaska Energy Authority said that points would be awarded to projects after consideration of NOx emission priority areas, project cost-effectiveness in reducing NOx emissions, voluntary funding match levels, location in air quality priority areas, and years of applicant experience.

On June 8, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey released a plan proposing to spend $38 million, or 67 percent of the state’s nearly $57 million allocation, on purchasing over 280 new school buses for use in low-income communities across the state. Diesel school buses that are over 15 years old and have run over 100,000 miles will be replaced with low-emissions diesel or alternative-fuel buses. Districts applying for funds must prove that 60 percent of their students qualified for free or reduced lunches during the 2017-2018 school year. The state began accepting applications in August.

Through the Arkansas Bus CNG (ABC) Pilot Program, the state is dedicating 54 percent, or almost $8 million, of its $14.6 million to CNG school buses. Diesel school buses manufactured in model years 1992-2009 are eligible and replacements will be funded up to 75 percent. “The program would fund the purchase of up to 20 buses at each of three school districts in Arkansas,” said the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.

In California, $423 million is available. Up to $130 million is going toward zero-emission shuttle, transit and school buses, with up to $400,000 available for a battery-electric school bus. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) estimated that 65 percent of the 25,000 school buses California are currently running are diesel, and that 4,500 are not equipped with diesel particulate filters or are nearing the end of their useful lives.

“At least 50 percent of this allocation is expected to benefit disadvantaged or low-income communities,” CARB said. Since the VW funds will all but cover the cost of the new vehicles, they cannot be stacked with funds from the state's Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project.

About $18 million or 26 percent of Colorado’s total of $68.7 million is going to the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Replacement Program to replace 400 to 500 diesel school, transit and shuttle buses. The new school buses can be powered by electric, CNG or propane, with districts receiving $200,000, $50,000 and $30,000, respectively, toward the purchase price. Repowers are not allowed as part of this program. In answer to a public comment, the state said it “will allow pre-2009 natural gas or propane vehicles be scrapped and replaced with new natural gas or propane vehicles” unless the trustee objected.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Air Quality proposed that the state’s share of $9.6 million be divided into three spending phases, with Phase 1 going to replace old diesel school buses with new propane ones.

Despite comments from the likes of Cummins and NGVAmerica asking that approved alt-fuel options include natural gas and clean diesel, and not be limited to propane, the department responded that propane was the focus of Phase 1. Todd Mouw, president of ROUSH CleanTech, commended the choice of propane but asked for school bus contractors to also be eligible for funding. Contractors were clarified to be eligible if they served areas that were disparately-populated or had poor air quality.

“We are taking into account the school calendar and intend Phase 1 to deploy the new propane fueled bus fleet in time for the 2019-2020 school year,” the department said in response to community concern over the timeline.

In response to the Sierra Club’s suggestion of buying electric buses instead, the department pointed out the cost differential of $230,000 for an electric bus compared with $85,000 for a propane bus. “Delaware can achieve more emission reductions at broader cost benefit by replacing 150 older dirty diesel school buses with propane than it could by purchasing 22 buses with an electric equivalent,” it added.

Despite comments from the likes of Cummins, Inc. and NGVAmerica asking that approved alt-fuel options include natural gas and clean diesel, and not be limited to propane, the department responded that propane was the focus of Phase 1.

“We are taking into account the school calendar and intend Phase 1 to deploy the new propane fueled bus fleet in time for the 2019-2020 school year,” the department said in response to community concern over the timeline.

Though the District of Columbia did not designate any of its $8.125 million specifically for school buses, it targeted locomotive switcher engine replacement, replacement of diesel transit buses, and rebates for tailpipe pollution reduction retrofits in an effort to improve air quality—in part for students with asthma.

A different program run by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education for Washington is replacing diesel school buses with gasoline ones, which are not eligible for VW funding.

More than $166 million goes to Florida, which has held public informative webinars and meetings. The last available information stated that a question and answer period would close on May 12, after which the Department of Environmental Protection would develop and publicly post a draft mitigation plan this fall. The DEP said some of its considerations are projects in communities that bear a disproportionate share of the air pollution burden, getting rid of the highest emitting diesel units, and incentivizing projects with greater emission reductions per dollar invested.

Over $63.6 million goes to Georgia’s State Trust, and none of it is allocated for school transportation.

“Based on Georgia’s goals for the use of State Trust funds and public input, Georgia intends to  allocate the State Trust funds to replace older, higher-polluting transit buses serving Georgia citizens in the Atlanta Metropolitan Area, which bears a disproportionate share of the air pollution burden in Georgia,” the final draft of the state beneficiary mitigation plan states. The replacement transit buses will be clean diesel or all-electric.

Hawaii, along with a handful of smaller states, received the minimum allocation of $8.125 million from the VW settlement,” the Hawaii State Energy Office said. “The state looks to apply Trust funds to make market transformative investments that will reduce NOx emissions in the transportation sector, and reduce Hawaii’s dependency on imported fossil fuels within the transportation sector.”

Per the official website, public comments on funding eligibility are still being accepted. HSEO Communications Officer Alan Yonan, Jr. told STN that 89 percent of the 149 responses received from Oahu, Maui, Hawaii Island, Kauai, and the mainland supported funding bus replacement and repower.

Idaho receives over $17 million and intends to spend 35 percent on “replacing school buses and transit buses with diesel, propane, compressed natural gas, and electric versions.” Fifteen percent of the total amount will go to the Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment Program, which helps build publicly available electric vehicle charging stations. But these will only be used for light-duty vehicles and not medium- and heavy-duty ones like school buses. The state Department of Environmental Quality stated that it “decided to take a technology/vehicle neutral approach to project funding, rather than prioritize any single technology or any one type of vehicle.”

Illinois receives $108 million and is establishing the “Driving a Cleaner Illinois” grant program to administer it. It set aside almost $11 million, 10 percent of its share, for replacing diesel school buses with cleaner diesel or alternative fuel. Another 10 percent was allocated solely to replace diesel buses with electric.

Round one of the program designates $1 million to replace diesel school buses solely in Cook County, Illinois with all-electric ones, and applications were due Oct. 15.

Last October, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb established the 11-member Indiana Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund Committee with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management as the beneficiary. As public meetings were held and comments were accepted as to how the state’s $41 million should be spent, school buses were a substantial part of the conversation, with only one other category receiving more support.

The draft beneficiary plan released in late August proposed that 40 percent, or over $9.5 million, of the state’s funding go to school bus replacement. Thirty percent of that, or $2.85 million, would be set aside specifically for electric school buses. A meeting is scheduled for late October to discuss this plan.

Iowa’s government said that when it sought public comment on how to use its $21 million, the “most popular response received was to use the funds for school bus replacements, specifically for buses utilizing alternative fuel sources such as propane.” The final plan does not specify any one type of fuel, but it does state that 45 percent of the state’s funding will go toward replacing or repowering school buses with new diesel, alternative fuel or all-electric options.

The Kansas Department Health and Environment developed a plan for the state’s nearly $15.6 million allocation and submitted it for review by a third-party trust. The draft plan proposed putting $2 million of that into the state DERA option to fund or the addition of anti-idling technologies or early replacements of school buses.

Thirty-two percent of the funding was set for the Class 4 through 8 on-road vehicle option, which also includes school buses. Government-owned vehicles would be funded up to 50 percent for a diesel-to-diesel replacement, and 75 percent for a diesel-to-alternative fuel or diesel-to-electric replacement. Engine replacements would be funded up to 75 percent whether the new system was diesel, alternative fuel or electric.

In its draft plan released in August, Kentucky proposed to use at least 80 percent of its $20.4 million share for government-owned transit bus repowers and replacement, while no funds were specifically allotted for school buses. The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet said one of its main priorities in designating the funds was NOx reduction. Per the official website, comments are still being accepted.

Louisiana is allocating up to two-thirds of its approximately $18 million for school bus replacement, giving first consideration to replacing diesel school buses “with electric, alternative fuel or high-efficiency diesel vehicles.” Districts get 50 percent of new alternative fuel buses and 25 percent of diesel buses funded.

Lafayette Parish Schools has been approved to receive funding for 10 Blue Bird Vision propane school buses.

Maine gets just over $21 million and does not designate any of it for school buses in particular, though they are eligible for a portion of 25 percent of the state’s total. The final plan stated that the main goal of the funding usage is to “improve and protect ambient air quality.” Consideration would be given to projects “in areas that receive a disproportionate quantity of air pollution from diesel fleets,” such as school bus yards.

Government-owned and district-contracted buses are eligible for up to 80 percent of a new bus or repower, whether the fuel is electric, CNG, propane, or hybrid.

Approximately $75.7 million goes to Maryland, of which $4 million was designated for school bus replacement “with alternative fuel buses, such as electric, CNG, and propane, all of which provide NOx emissions reductions.” It was particularly noted that propane buses have recently been certified to ultra-low-emission standards of 0.02 grams of NOx per brake/horsepower-hour that reduce the emissions by 81 percent over new diesel buses.” The Maryland Department of the Environment is currently accepting project proposals.

Massachusetts released a plan for using the first part of its $75 million. Transit buses and light-duty electric vehicle charging stations were prioritized, but $7.5 million was allocated for a competitive grant process, which school buses are eligible for. Solicitations are projected to open this fall, with weight given to things such as anticipated emissions reduction, electrification, location and funding match by the applicant.

Poised to receive $60.3 million, Michigan released a Request for Information, in which it encouraged proposals for school bus replacement. “Children are among the most vulnerable to the negative health impacts from exposure to NOx emissions and would benefit from the cleaner air associated with new, clean diesel buses,” stated the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

In submitted comments, school bus manufacturer Blue Bird Corporation, its propane-autogas drivetrain partner ROUSH CleanTech and Greenville Public Schools expressed support for propane-fueled school buses. Meanwhile, Hoekstra Transportation, Inc. supported fuel-neutral school bus replacement. Several school districts expressed support for electric school bus funding. At last report, the state is currently building its draft plan.

Minnesota gets $47 million, but chose to only allocate $11.75 million in Phase 1 so it could regroup and make changes to future phases. “We have heard from many Minnesotans that the VW funds should reduce emissions from school buses to protect the health of children,” said the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

A school bus replacement program gets 20 percent of the $11.75 million, or $2.35 million, which will go to purchase approximately 127 buses. An individual school bus was originally slated to get $10,000 in grant funds but, after hearing public feedback, that was changed to $15,000 per bus—and $20,000 per bus for low-income school districts.

Mississippi held public meetings and accepted comments this spring to decide how to spend its almost $10 million. The final plan has not yet been released.

The beneficiary, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, has previously shown its support of school bus replacement as seen by a July award of $295,000 to 17 school districts for new diesel school bus purchases. The money was part of the Diesel School Bus Replacement Program, which is not connected to the VW funds.

Out of Missouri’s $41 million in VW funds, school buses will be getting at least $12 million and as much as $18 million. This allocation was the result of strong public support. “Public schools, with both school-owned buses and contractor owned buses, charter schools, and private or faith-based schools will qualify for funds in the school bus award category,” the Department of Natural Resources said. “Cleaner school bus emissions mean significantly less acute exposure to concentrated diesel emissions for students and drivers.”

Project applications from “financially disadvantaged schools” will be accepted first. The Missouri Propane Education and Research Council proposed that 50 percent of the state’s total funds be used for the Clean Bus Replacement Plan. It has also pledged up to $1 million to help district replace old school buses with propane ones.

The draft plan for Montana’s $12.6 million was open for public comments until late August. During that time, school buses were identified as an area in need of funding, though transit buses received more attention.

Almost $6 million, or 55 percent of the state’s total, is proposed to go to heavy-duty on road vehicles like school buses. Evaluations of submitted projects will include consideration of location, demographics and pollution. Areas with high diesel emissions like schools and school bus yards will be given priority, the Department of Environmental Quality said.

Nebraska elected to use a quarter of its approximately $12.25 million to provide rebates to replace old diesel school buses with new diesel, CNG or propane vehicles. The first round of applications closed in August, and all 42 schools or school districts that applied will be receiving funding. Four elected to purchase propane buses, while the rest chose diesel.

About $24.8 million goes to Nevada, where 1,089 school buses were identified as eligible for funding—884 in Clark County and 205 in Washoe County. The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection explained that this number does not include all eligible vehicles in the state, but it does include most of them as those two counties are Nevada’s most populous. Alternative fuel vehicles, especially ones certified to California Air Resources Board optional low NOx standards, were singled out as better options than diesel-to-diesel replacements.

“In our assessment, replacing and permanently removing from Nevada’s roadways older diesel powered vehicles, whether they be local freight trucks, school buses, shuttle buses, or transit buses, are some of the most impactful mitigation actions that could be funded with Environmental Trust funds,” the NDEP said. A project has already been submitted to replace five 2005 model-year diesel buses at Clark County School District with five 2018 diesel equivalents.

In the New Hampshire final plan released last month, over $9 million of the state’s total $30.9 million allocation was designated for transit and school buses. “About 50 percent of the approximately 2,500 school buses operating in the state are diesel powered and over 500 of these vehicles would potentially qualify for replacement or re-powering utilizing Environmental Mitigation Trust funding,” according to beneficiary Office of Strategic Initiatives. Clean diesel, propane, electric and hybrid were among the alternatives listed.

New Jersey’s draft plan was released for public comment this month. It stated that the incoming $72.2 million will be used in a manner consistent with Gov. Phil Murphy’s “commitment to achieving 100 percent clean energy by 2050 and the state’s commitment to wide-scale deployment of electric vehicles.”

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection stated that it would “support pilot projects that will lead to scalable zero emission vehicle ventures, such as electric buses for public K-12 schools and higher education institutions.” During the development phase of the draft plan, 11 school bus replacement or repower projects were submitted, for 849 new buses, charging stations or pieces of equipment.

School buses in New Mexico are limited to 12 years of service, plus eight more years of use as spare vehicles. The state plan sets 70 percent of the state’s $18 million aside for trucks and buses, but it does not break it down projects further. Several commenters proposed replacing the 300-plus school buses that are over 12 years old with buses run on propane or ethanol, both fuels produced in the state. The “generation of electricity to power all-electric buses simply moves the pollution to another location,” they argued. The New Mexico Environment Department responded that it was leaving the project guidelines broad so as to allow flexibility and better meet VW funding goals.

While it also received many comments in favor of electric school buses, the NMED reiterated its opinion that ZEVs needed more real-world testing. “Dependability/reliability is the utmost concern when it comes to vehicle usage, but more so when it involves transporting children to and from schools,” it noted. It cited a Vermont Energy Investment Corporation study that found the Massachusetts Electric School Pilot Project did not yield the level of results hoped for when it came to miles traveled, energy savings and fuel costs.

Applications for projects were accepted until Sept. 14.

New York is designating 40 percent, at least $52.4 million, of its $127 million to replace up to 500 diesel shuttle, transit and school buses, with electrification projects and environmental justice areas given priority. Diesel-to-diesel replacements will also be considered, “particularly where it will provide benefits in EJ communities, but the amount of such funding will depend on the level of interest in electric buses,” the Department of Environmental Conservation stated.

It added that during the public comment phase, “many commenters recommended funding the replacement of school buses, particularly in school bus fleets in urban EJ (environmental justice) neighborhoods.”

North Carolina released a plan for the first third of its $92 million allocation. A school bus replacement program is slated to receive 40 percent of that $33 million, or almost $12.3 million. Diesel gets 25 percent of the amount, natural gas and propane get 10 percent, and electric gets five percent.

“We received overwhelming support for ZEV infrastructure and school bus replacement allocation,” the North Carolina Division of Air Quality said. Most commenters supported propane school buses, resulting in the DAQ changing the breakdown of fuel allotments.

From July through the end of August, North Dakota called for input to help finalize its plan for allocation of its $8.1 million. Designated as the beneficiary, the North Dakota Department of Health said in the draft plan that eligible buses could receive 25 to 50 percent of the funding. It added that it would likely not designate in what areas the funding would be spent, but implement a competitive project funding process. Unspecified comments were received from several in the school bus and alt-fuel industries, such as Cummins, Inc., West Fargo Schools, Harlow's Bus and Truck Sales, North Dakota Propane Gas Association, and Natural Gas Vehicles for America.

Recipient of $75 million, Ohio allocated 53 percent, or $15 million, for a new Diesel Mitigation Trust Fund. School buses, the most requested category for funding, will get $5 million. Both government and nongovernment organizations can receive up to $110,000 per school bus. New vehicles and equipment may be CNG, LNG, propane, diesel-electric hybrid, or all-electric. Awards range from $50,000 to $2 million, and a 25 percent minimum local match is required.

The state Environmental Protection Agency also said it “expects to issue a separate Request for Proposals later in 2018 for a small demonstration project involving electric school buses.”

Ohio has given particular attention to school bus replacement—as well as installation of pollution control equipment and idle reduction equipment on school buses—through previous programs like the Ohio Clean Diesel School Bus Fund, Diesel Emission Reduction Grant (DERG) program, and Alternative Fuel Vehicle Conversion Grant program. Through these programs, diesel buses were replaced with new clean diesel, propane or CNG.

Oklahoma’s Alternative Fuel School Bus Program puts approximately $4.1 million of the state’s $21 million toward alternative fuel school bus projects including electric, electric hybrid, propane and natural gas (CNG or LNG). To be eligible, buses must have been driven at least 3,000 miles over the past year. Per-item caps apply based on bus size, fuel and ownership, as does a per-project cap of $300,000. Applications are due Dec. 3.

Separately, under the state DERA option, opportunities will be offered for “exhaust control retrofits on a variety of vehicles, and diesel or gasoline school bus replacements,” explained the Department of Environmental Quality.

At least $72.9 million goes to Oregon, which plans to target 450 diesel school buses for replacement or retrofitting with exhaust controls. These 450 buses must be model-years 2006 to 2007, the state’s median, and will be chosen randomly from districts across the state. Exhaust controls will be 100 percent funded. A replacement bus will receive 30 percent funding or $50,000, whichever is less.

One comment requested prioritization of electrification and exclusion of diesel projects. The Department of Environmental Quality responded that such a request would not be granted out of consideration of cost-effectiveness and comparing the price difference between a new diesel and electric bus.

“For instance, for every million dollars available, offering 30 percent towards the purchase of a new electric bus will fund turnover of 8 buses reducing 136.5 tons of CO2, but expending the same funding on late model diesel bus replacements would result in the scrapping of 25 older buses reducing 345 tons of CO2,” DEQ explained.

Pennsylvania’s final plan released in May designates 35 to 40 percent of its over $118.5 million for heavy duty on-road projects including school buses. The state also said it may designate part of the funding for “specialty” projects such as school buses. Projects will be given consideration based in part on cost-effectiveness, NOx emissions reduction, the number of diesel vehicles they replace, the areas in which they improve air quality, and the extent to which they “advance Pennsylvania’s energy, environmental, or economic development goals.”

Through the state’s Driving Pennsylvania Forward initiative, Allegheny Transportation Services, Inc. and Shultz Transportation last month received funds to replace old diesel school buses with new clean diesel. 

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management proposed to use the vast majority of the state’s $14.3 million for 20 all-electric transit buses, with the aim of benefitting environmental justice areas, schools, and adults and students with asthma.

Based on public comments received, 80 to 100 percent of South Carolina’s approximately $34 million is going to school, shuttle and transit buses. Details were not given beyond the original EPA guidelines as to the fuels that would be funded, or how much a bus or project would get. The second round of public comments closed in late August, but the final plan has not yet been released.

South Dakota gets $8.125 million. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources stated that it did not want to promote one type of fuel over another, but let applicants choose what best fits their needs.

Despite receiving comments in favor of school bus funding, the department pointed out that such an option exists under the state’s DERA Clean Diesel Grant Program which “has helped public schools throughout the state replace older buses and reduce not only nitrogen oxide emission but other air emissions that may impact school children.” It added that 10 percent of the VW funding could go toward school buses “if the response for projects is extensive in a particular year.”

Sixty percent of Tennessee’s almost $46 million is slated to go to school, shuttle and transit buses, with school buses getting almost $9 million. Feedback that the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation received during its public comment phase led it to prioritize alternative fuels and electrification over new clean diesel. Each grantee may receive up to $750,000, and repowers are not eligible.

Government-owned projects will be funded up to 50 percent, or up to 75 percent if they are located in distressed counties or areas with poor air quality. School districts with an idle-reduction policy in place that includes school buses will receive priority. The state expects to fund between 30 and 384 school bus projects. Applications are now being accepted.

Texas chose to allocate over 80 percent of its $209 million by areas of priority, which are “impacted by a disproportionate share of the air pollution burden within the regional and local jurisdictions.”

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality also expressed its desire to stay “fuel-neutral” and not champion any specific fuel, so that “grant applicants research the available technologies and determine what types of vehicles, equipment, and fuels will work best to meet their needs, while achieving the desired reductions in nitrogen oxides.”

Government-owned school bus replacements or repowers will be funded at 60 percent for all fuels. Additionally, for vehicles to be repowered or replaced with all-electric options, the state set a limit of 60 percent funding “to ensure that applicants have a financial stake in the project.” The final plan has not yet been released.

Trucks and buses will receive almost 75 percent of Utah’s $35 million. An advisory committee recommended that buses get seven percent of the funding, but the second-highest number of public responses was in favor of buses. The Department of Environmental Quality said that final funding determinations “will be based on projects received through the application process,” which is currently open.

Applicants can receive funding for up to 50 percent of the cost for new diesel or alternative fueled vehicles or engines, up to 55 percent of the cost of new vehicles or engines certified to the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) Optional Low-NOx Standards, and up to 65 percent of the cost of new all-electric replacement vehicles or engines.

In Vermont, 11 percent of the state’s $18.7 million was allocated for an electric school bus pilot program. Another 24 percent was set aside for more potential electric school bus adoption depending on how the pilot performs.

“While electric buses are currently being deployed in various settings across the United States, demonstration and pilot projects are still needed to help Vermonters understand the feasibility and applicability of this type of technology in Vermont,” commented the Agency of Natural Resources. “Having information from these pilot projects will provide important lessons learned, information on benefits and issues, and will hopefully stretch the implementation timeline so that electric bus technologies are more cost competitive with their fossil fuel counterparts.” Proposals for the electric school bus pilot are currently being accepted through Nov. 30.

Virginia gets $93.6 million. The Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Air and Renewable Energy said on-road heavy duty vehicles like school buses was one area of focus, though it did not specify how much would be allocated there. The final plan released in August states that the DEQ is taking a "diverse approach" based on public input, and is still accepting feedback.

Over $112.7 million was approved for Washington state, which declared its intent “to reduce air pollution from diesel vehicles and increase access to electric vehicle infrastructure.” The Department of Ecology proposed spending up to 45 percent of its share for trucks and buses, prioritizing electrification of public fleets. It is currently reviewing public comments submitted.

The West Virginia Department of Transportation’s Division of Highways has not released much information on its plans for the state’s $12 million. The Department of Transportation-Division of Highways will work with the Department of Environmental Protection-Division of Air Quality to develop the draft plan and give notice when the public comment period opens.

Over $67 million goes to Wisconsin. The State Budget, 2017 Wisconsin Act 59, established the Transit Capital Assistance Grant Program for distributing up to $42 million for transit bus replacement. Plans for the rest of the funding were not solidified, as the state said it “will seek public input for the use of the remaining allocation over subsequent years.”

With one of Wyoming’s stated goals being to reduce NOx emissions that affect “sensitive populations” like children and the elderly, school bus funding was one area identified as a priority. School buses that are model-year 2006 or older are eligible for a share of the state’s $8 million. The Department of Environmental Quality said it would issue a request for proposals and evaluate projects based on NOx reduced and cost-effectiveness.

Editor’s Note: The VW Settlement Clearinghouse, provided by the National Association of State Energy Officials and the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, provides information on state trustees, official websites, contact persons and more.

Last modified onThursday, 01 November 2018 11:57