school bus

School Bus Electrification Program Launched

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette announced the launch of the New Jersey’s Electric School Bus Grant Program, made possible by legislation Gov. Phil Murphy signed in 2022 to provide up to $45 million in funding over three years to replace diesel school buses with battery-electric school buses and to install associated charging infrastructure across the state.

The new program will also fund pilot projects that use the battery on the bus to provide power to a building during off-peak hours when the bus is parked. The NJDEP will hold a series of webinars on Feb. 6 and Feb. 14 to discuss the advantages of the program and to assist school districts and operators apply for funding.

“There is nothing more important to all of us than the health and wellbeing of our children,” said LaTourette. “Yet the fact is that many thousands of them are transported back and forth each day in fossil fuel-powered buses that emit particulates and other pollutants that are especially harmful to their developing lungs and bodies. Electric school buses are our solution and a proven technology that will improve the health of kids and our communities. The NJDEP’s Electric School Bus Grant Program will jump start these efforts across the state, spurring the wide use of these buses in cities and towns across New Jersey.”

Of the 21,700 school buses registered in New Jersey, more than 99% run on fossil fuels.

Over the years, the NJDEP has assisted school districts with retrofitting and/or upgrading diesel-powered school buses to better protect students. The DEP succeeded in having more than 7,000 school buses retrofitted with upgraded cabin ventilation systems that prevent diesel fumes from entering the buses each time the door opened. Electric school buses represent the next generation of protection by eliminating all emissions from buses.

In launching the Electric School Bus Grant Program, the DEP is making the first $15 million round of funding available following the allocation of funds by the New Jersey legislature last month. Legislation for the grant program was signed in 2022. Grants are available to school districts and school bus operators seeking to purchase two or more electric school buses and for a bi-directional bus and charging infrastructure pilot, which enables electricity to flow from vehicles to buildings to offset building energy demand. The program is funded through the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ Clean Energy Fund. Electric school buses qualify for the state’s sales-tax exemption.

The solicitation is posted on DEP’s Electric School Bus Grant Program webpage. Applications are due Friday, May 17.

DEP will host a series of Microsoft Teams webinars that include question-and-answer sessions on the program:

  • Feb. 6 – An Overview of New Jersey’s Electric School Bus Program Solicitation
    • Join 12 to 1 p.m. for details on the solicitation and how to apply for a grant.
  • Feb. 14 – Interested in applying for the Bi-directional Charging Pilot?
    • Join 12 to 2 p.m. to learn about the bi-directional charging pilot program.

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