$100 Million Available For Zero-Emission School Buses
First Round of Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act Funding Slated for Zero-Emission School Buses
September 28, 2023
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced $100 million will be made available on a statewide basis for zero-emission school buses in the first round of funding available for these buses under the historic $4.2 billion Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act of 2022. By utilizing this funding, school districts and bus operators statewide will be able to phase out fossil fuel buses, curb emissions, and make zero-emission buses more affordable. Today’s announcement supports the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85 percent by 2050 and Governor Hochul's 2022 State of the State initiative to require all new school buses sold in New York State be zero-emission by 2027 and all school buses on the road be zero-emission by 2035.
"The commitment of public funds and guidance released today puts New York State schools and bus operators on a trajectory to embrace clean transportation and the benefits that it will bring,” Governor Hochul said. “Zero-emission buses will become a hallmark, not only transporting students through our communities, but also demonstrating the promise and possibility of a healthier, environmentally friendly, low-carbon future for our youngest citizens.”
Today, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) released the program rules, officially launching the pre-application process through which bus manufacturers and dealers can apply to qualify for the New York School Bus Incentive Program (NYSBIP). The program rules will guide the total Bond Act allotment of $500 million for zero-emission school buses and infrastructure. The application process to receive funding will open on Wednesday, November 29, 2023. To provide more information about the NYSBIP goals, guidelines, process, and timelines, NYSERDA will host a webinar on October 11, 2023, at 12 p.m., where you can register here . For continued program updates, please join our mailing list.
The NYSBIP is a New York State-wide point-of-sale incentive program that provides discounts to eligible school bus fleet operators that purchase zero-emission battery electric (BEV) or hydrogen fuel cell electric (FCEV) school buses and associated charging infrastructure. Incentives for school buses will be disbursed directly to dealers and manufacturers to offset some or all of the difference in purchase price between zero-emission school buses and comparable diesel or gas-powered buses. Charging infrastructure incentives will also be issued directly to the fleet owner (the school district or their contractor).
The Environmental Bond Act requires that disadvantaged communities shall receive no less than 35 percent, with a goal of 40 percent, of the benefit of total Bond Act funds. In line with this goal, NYSERDA will aim to ensure at least 40 percent of the NYSBIP benefits disadvantaged communities. Buses domiciled in or serving disadvantaged communities and/or high-need school districts will receive consideration for higher incentive amounts.
NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, “The Environmental Bond Act funding creates a pivotal opportunity that brings zero-emission school buses to the forefront of New York State’s clean energy and climate future. Incorporating community feedback received at this summer’s Environmental Bond Act meetings and through the draft criteria open comment period, is now culminating in the next step – working in partnership with school districts, bus operators and manufacturers to make meaningful changes to student transportation by putting more clean buses on our roadways.”
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “New York’s Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act is a direct investment from our generation in a healthier future for the next generation of New Yorkers. As Governor Hochul continues to prioritize implementing the Bond Act transparently, DEC looks forward to our ongoing collaboration with NYSERDA and other State agency partners and applauds this first $100 million being made available for cleaner school buses that will benefit children and communities across the state.”
Public Service Commission Chair Rory M. Christian said, “I applaud Governor Hochul’s steadfast commitment to developing a clean-energy economy. This commitment is demonstrated in so many ways, including her support for the development and expansion of the use of electric vehicles. Programs such as those dedicated to expanding the use of zero-emission buses will help reduce air emissions and improve the environment for all New Yorkers.”
New York State Education Department Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said, "Zero-emissions buses can have significant benefits for our schools and districts across the state, especially our urban districts, by reducing pollution and providing a cleaner transportation option for students. Additional resources—like those announced today—will be critical to ensuring school communities are able to make these investments. Under Governor Hochul’s leadership and in collaboration with our partner agencies, we can continue to work towards delivering cleaner, healthier communities for New York’s nearly 2.5 million students.”
State Senator Timothy Kennedy said, “Transitioning our state's school bus fleets to electric is a critical component of building a greener and more environmentally-just New York. This investment will significantly assist dealers in lowering manufacturing costs and ultimately save school districts millions of dollars - a win on all fronts."
State Senator Shelley Mayer said, “I applaud Governor Hochul’s commitment to bringing New York State to the forefront of combating climate change by transitioning to the use of zero-emission school buses. Over the past several years, we have endured catastrophic storms as a result of climate change. We must continue to make substantial strides in reducing the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere, while not putting school districts and communities in financial hardship. These funds are an important step forward in supporting school districts making this transition.”
Assemblymember Didi Barrett said, “As we work to decarbonize New York State’s bus fleets, it is imperative that we give our school districts the resources they need to make this transition without burdening school budgets or taxpayers,” said Assemblymember Didi Barrett, Chair of the Assembly’s Energy Committee. “When we passed the Environmental Bond Act, we committed to record investments in our new, green economy, and I am delighted that Governor Hochul and NYSERDA have now made this critical funding for zero-emission school buses available.” Assemblymember Deborah Glick said, “The need to move away from school buses using fossil fuels is clear. These buses are used every school day of every year- exposing children and neighborhoods to harmful emissions. School buses operate in all parts of the state performing an essential service, but need to do so without impacting air quality. I commend the Governor for taking this is important step that will help school districts around the state access the types of school buses that will make their communities cleaner.
Assemblymember Michael Benedetto said, “Converting over to electric school buses is a necessity. Clean energy will mean a cleaner planet. I applaud NYSERDA for funding this vital initiative.”
New York State Bus Distributors Association President Robert Reichenbach said, “We commend Governor Hochul and the legislature for their leadership in ensuring the necessary state funding is available to assist school districts as they begin transitioning their school bus fleets to all-electric. We work daily with our school district and private school transportation partners providing them the guidance, buses, and support they will need to meet New York’s all-electric school bus mandate. We look forward to working with them and the Governor’s team as we help replace the more than 47,000 conventionally-powered school buses operating in New York State.”
Gates Chili Central School District Assistant Superintendent for Business Dr. Mitchell Ball said, “Thanks to funding for clean initiatives like this, Gates Chili led the charge and was the first district in upstate New York to add electric school buses to its fleet,” said Dr. Mitchell Ball, Assistant Superintendent for Business at the Gates Chili Central School District in Rochester, NY. “We proudly embrace the move to zero-emission buses, which add value for our families and take steps to address our impact on the environment.”
The NYSBIP eligibility guidelines were open for public comment through September 1, 2023. The rules published today reflect the input from public comments. Public engagement is a key component of the Bond Act implementation. A project ideas survey continues to be open until this Saturday, Sept. 30 , to solicit input about the State's existing funding mechanisms and help municipalities, community-based organizations, and other New Yorkers share potential projects ideas and capture feedback about the types of projects communities may want supported with Bond Act resources. For more information, go to www.ny.gov/BondAct . Additional opportunities will be made available for the public to comment on guidelines for existing or new programs to distribute funding.
The switch to zero emission school buses helps create healthier environments for students and communities by reducing pollution and emissions. The significant quantities of pollutants emitted by diesel and gasoline powered school buses contribute to poor air quality by producing particulate matter (PM), carbon monoxide (CO), and nitrogen oxide (NOx) that when dispersed can drift back into the vehicle cabin and remain there, exacerbating chronic health conditions, including asthma or cognitive impairments.
An inter-agency working group comprised of multiple state agencies recently concluded a statewide listening tour which served to identify needs for environmental funding across the state and develop program logistics, including additional eligibility guidelines for how projects will be selected and delivered, through a transparent and collaborative process.
Recently, Governor Hochul announced the New York State Electric School Bus Roadmap and the Electric School Bus Guidebook to help New York P-12 schools transition bus fleets to zero-emission. These resources provide school districts and bus operators with the technical assistance necessary to remove fossil fuel vehicles from service and help reduce transportation emissions with a focus on disadvantaged communities and high-need school districts. Both the Roadmap and Guidebook pinpoint critical factors and decisions that school districts and bus operators face when considering zero-emission buses. Additionally, NYSERDA and the utility providers who cover the majority of the State’s school districts will provide technical assistance to support school districts and fleet operators plan for the transition.
In celebration of Climate Week last week and to further promote the electrification of bus fleets, Governor Hochul also announced ongoing progress in the construction of 53 state-of-the-art overhead electric bus chargers at Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) depots in Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island and Brooklyn. The modernized electric infrastructure will support the MTA’s growing zero-emissions bus fleet throughout New York City, reducing carbon emissions, addressing climate change and serving as a model for other metropolitan bus fleet operators.
Today’s announcement complements Governor Hochul’s ongoing investments in clean transportation. New York is investing more than $1 billion in zero emissions vehicles over the next five years and adopting clean car and clean truck regulations that require 100 percent ZEV passenger car and light-duty truck sales by 2035. Active light-duty vehicle initiatives include zero-emission vehicle purchase rebates through NYSERDA’s Drive Clean Rebate Program, zero-emission vehicle and charging infrastructure grants through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Climate Smart Communities Municipal Grant Program , as well as the "EV Make Ready" initiative, New York Power Authority's EVolve NY charging infrastructure program, NYSERDA’s Charge Ready 2.0 for Level 2 charging infrastructure, and the New York State Department of Transportation’s National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) charging infrastructure program to help expand electric vehicle use. Active medium- and heavy-duty truck initiatives include zero-emission truck purchase vouchers through the New York Truck Voucher Program (NYTVIP) and the New York City Clean Trucks Program, the "EV Make Ready" initiative to help expand electric vehicle use, fleet assessment services, and the $24 million Electric Truck and Bus Prize Challenge under the $85 million New York Clean Transportation Prizes .
New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Plan
New York State's nation-leading climate agenda calls for an orderly and just transition that creates family-sustaining jobs, continues to foster a green economy across all sectors and ensures that at least 35 percent, with a goal of 40 percent, of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities. Guided by some of the nation’s most aggressive climate and clean energy initiatives, New York is on a path to achieving a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and economywide carbon neutrality by mid-century. A cornerstone of this transition is New York's unprecedented clean energy investments, including more than $35 billion in 120 large-scale renewable and transmission projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce building emissions, $3.3 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $2 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. These and other investments are supporting more than 165,000 jobs in New York’s clean energy sector in 2021 and over 3,000 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality, New York also adopted zero-emission vehicle regulations, including requiring all new passenger cars and light-duty trucks sold in the State be zero emission by 2035. Partnerships are continuing to advance New York’s climate action with nearly 400 registered and more than 100 certified Climate Smart Communities, nearly 500 Clean Energy Communities, and the State’s largest community air monitoring initiative in 10 disadvantaged communities across the state to help target air pollution and combat climate change.
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