School districts in Florida and Kentucky will soon have access to funding for low-emission, alt-fuel school buses. File photo

School districts in Florida and Kentucky will soon have access to funding for low-emission, alt-fuel school buses. File photo

School districts in Florida and Kentucky will soon have access to funding for new low-emission, alternative-fuel school buses.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Tuesday the state’s plan to use its $166 million share of Volkswagen (VW) settlement funds for new low-emission, alternative-fuel school buses, transit buses, and shuttles, as well as electric vehicle charging infrastructure, according to a news release from DeSantis’s office.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) published Requests for Information (RFIs) for three project types outlined in the plan. The first project would provide up to 70% of VW settlement funding ($116.4 million) for school, transit, and shuttle bus replacements. The second would allocate up to 15% ($24.9 million) for electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and the remaining 15% ($24.9 million) would be for the continuation of EPA’s Diesel Emission Reduction (DERA) grant program.

“My administration is committed to making smart investments to help improve our state’s air quality long term,” DeSantis said. “This funding will allow us to focus on projects that will reduce harmful emissions, help modernize school and transit bus fleets, and provide access to charging stations in our state as electric vehicle usage continues to increase.”

Potential applicants have until Nov. 7 to express interest in the program, which will help the DEP “develop the process by which projects are identified and funded,” according to the agency’s website.

Additionally, the DEP is making $5 million available to replace the state's aging diesel school buses with all-electric buses. School districts will be able to use the grant funding for up to 100% cost-reimbursement from the DEP for the replacement of diesel buses model year 2009 or older with new electric-powered buses and related charging infrastructure, according to the agency. (To apply for the program, go here.)

Meanwhile, in Kentucky, all public school districts and private schools will be eligible to apply for funding to replace aging diesel school buses.

The state’s Clean Diesel Grant program will provide more than $320,000 to fund projects to reduce diesel emissions through school bus replacement — reimbursing districts up to 25% of the total cost, according to a news release from Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet.

“We hope school districts across the Commonwealth will take advantage of this program that will protect the health of our children by reducing diesel emissions and improving air quality,” said Charles Snavely, secretary for the state Energy and Environment Cabinet.

Priority will be given to the selected applicants that are located in an area not meeting current air quality standards, proposals that achieve the most cost-effective emission reductions, and applications that demonstrate the most emissions reductions, according to the agency.

The deadline to apply for awards is Nov. 13. Selected applicants will have until August 2, 2021 to complete their projects. To apply for the program, go here.

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