On Monday, May 10, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) hosted its first public webinar on the Commonwealth’s Clean School Bus Program.
DEQ is now accepting applications for battery electric and propane school buses through the Clean School Bus Program. Through a competitive application process, DEQ will award $10 million in this round from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust for State Beneficiaries to Virginia public schools to cover the price difference between a battery electric bus or a propane bus and equivalent diesel bus, up to $265,000 per electric bus and associated charger and customer-side installation or up to $20,000 per propane bus. A total of $9.25 million is available for battery electric buses and associated chargers, and a total of $750,000 is available for propane buses in this round of funding. This is the first round of funding in 2021; another round will be announced this fall.
Angela Conroy, Senior Air Quality Planner at DEQ, led the informational webinar aimed at potential applicants. Attendees included several local school systems, government officials and other interested individuals. Conroy went over the program’s requirements and application process. She went into detail about the application scoring process, including the criteria:
1. age of bus
2. annual mileage of bus
3. free or reduced lunch percentage in the school system
These criteria are tabulated for an overall score, and she noted that each bus put into application is scored and ranked. Buses with older diesel technology made prior to 2006 are prioritized for replacement. Additionally, due to the pandemic, 2020 bus mileage does not need to be reported as part of the scoring.
Upcoming dates and deadlines
- May 17, 2021 – Second webinar for applicants, 11 AM – 12 PM- register here
- June 25, 2021 – Applications due
- July 2021 – Award recipients notified
During the webinar, an interactive poll question asked attendees whether they were open to applying for electric school buses. Seventy percent answered yes.
After the initial presentation, a question and answer session followed, below are some of the highlights.
Question: Are old spare buses eligible?
Answer: Buses have to be running and in use to be eligible.
Question: What documents are needed for showing the age of bus?
Answer: The bus’s odometer reading, maintenance records and copy of registration will suffice for documentation.
Question: Can you apply for only the charging stations?
Answer: No, this is not allowable under the trust.
Question: What is the estimated cost of new electric bus?
Answer: There is a range of cost, from $335,000 to $390,000, depending on options.
Question: Will application rules change for round two in the fall?
Answer: There may be changes, it depends on how this round goes. The public can comment on the process.
Question: How long do school systems have to keep the buses?
Answer: Buses must be kept for at least 10 years.
Question: Can this award be stacked with other outside funding?