The program introduced by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is open to school districts and bus operators that have purchased electric buses since January 2023.  -  Source: Canva

The program introduced by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is open to school districts and bus operators that have purchased electric buses since January 2023.

Source: Canva

Faced with increasing pushback about New York's electric school bus mandate, Gov. Kathy Hochul wants to make it easier for school districts in the Empire State to acquire charging infrastructure.

How the Charging Support Program Works

Applicants – public school districts and private school bus operators - who purchased electric school buses after Jan. 1, 2023, are eligible to apply for first-come, first-served funding from a program run by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

The funding for Level 2 or direct-current fast-charging chargers and associated electrical upgrades comes from the state’s $4.2 billion Clean Water, Clean Air, and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act and through the New York School Bus Incentive Program.

“Young people are at the center of the climate crisis, and enabling the transition to a zero-emission school bus fleet is not only a commitment to a greener future, but to the health and well-being of our students,” Hochul said in a news release. “As school districts make the switch to electric buses, my administration is providing the resources necessary to transition as easily and affordably as possible.”

The governor has set a goal of converting the state’s school bus fleet to zero-emission by 2035.

Funding under this program is determined by the number of zero-emission buses a school district or bus operator has bought or is currently buying, but amounts start at $25,000 per bus to cover hardware, electrical site upgrades, installation costs, and battery storage. Priority districts – those defined as high-need by the New York State Education Department or those serving disadvantaged communities - could receive another $10,000 per bus. The program also includes an incentive for applicants to complete a full fleet electrification plan, with a $30,000 per bus bonus.

Buses must be purchased through the New York School Bus Incentive Program (NYSBIP) or through the New York Truck Voucher Incentive Program or the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus Program. Other utility programs and federal incentives to help reduce the cost of electric buses and infrastructure include the Medium and Heavy Duty Make Ready Pilot and the Inflation Reduction Act 45W and 30C tax credits.

Response to the EV Charging Assistance Plan

“With actions like this, we see yet another example of Gov. Hochul’s continued to invest in a cleaner future,” said Rory Christian, chair of the New York State Public Service Commission. “Making our school bus fleet cleaner will help provide our children with a cleaner environment and will drive the clean energy economy.”

State Assemblymember Patricia Fahy called the announcement a “welcomed ‘breath of fresh air’ for students in New York.

“New Yorkers overwhelmingly approved the Environmental Bond Act, and I’m thrilled to see a portion of its funding going to alleviate the cost burden on local school districts for EV bus charging equipment,” said Fahy. “Retiring diesel-powered buses not only reduces a major public health risk for our students and disadvantaged communities — it is also critical to meeting New York’s nation-leading climate mandates.

“As we look toward growing our electric school bus fleet, it is exciting news that funding will be available to help with the cost of chargers and utility upgrades to provide a swifter path toward school bus electrification,” said Thomas W. Smith, chief operating officer of Suffolk Transportation Services and president of the New York School Bus Contractors Association (NYSBCA). “Infrastructure is a significant component in the deployment of the State's school bus electrification initiative. We look forward to continuing to work with NYSERDA to support the transition to all-electric school bus fleets.

Said John Luthringer, superintendent at Lake George Central School District: “Lake George is thrilled to be one of the first districts to receive school bus voucher funding through the NY School Bus Incentive Program and we look forward to applying for additional financial support through the charging program. As school districts continue to work toward meeting the state’s requirements for purchasing electric buses, these funding opportunities are incredibly important for schools to take advantage of, and Lake George is excited to be a part of it!”

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