HomeNewsMassachusetts Moves Forward With Funding for Electric School Buses

Massachusetts Moves Forward With Funding for Electric School Buses

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announced several key grants and investments in alternative-fuel vehicles, including the launch of an electric school bus pilot. 

According to a spokesperson involved in the Clinton Global Initiative’s Electric School Bus Demonstration, the Commonwealth began the request-for-bids process right before the holidays and has yet to choose a partner. Kevin Matthews of National Strategies LLC (NSI), a member of the CGI working group, also noted the administration has not yet selected the school district(s) to participate in the pilot that is scheduled for later this year.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which will be doing some exciting work with electric school buses. We just don’t know our exact role in the project at this time,” Matthews told STN.

A Dec. 12 press release from the Patrick Administration laid out plans to promote the adoption of electric vehicles statewide through public charging stations and the replacement or conversion of more than 200 public and private fleet vehicles with vehicles fueled by natural gas, propane, electricity, solar electric and hybrid technologies.

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) will administer the alternative-fuel grant program, which received $11.7 million in Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funds from the Federal Highway Administration. DOER will solicit project proposals in the coming months.

Working in partnership with CGI’s Electric Vehicle-to-Grid School Bus Demonstration, DOER will provide $1.8 million in grants for eight electric school buses with this capability. Electric school buses have energy storage capability and can serve as back-up energy resources during natural disasters and other emergencies. 

Matthews previously told STN the goal is to use more electric school buses for student transportation and, in the off hours, plug the buses into a power grid to help grid operators maintain and regulate its operation. He stressed that grant funding is vital in helping school districts and bus contractors adopt vehicle-to-grid, or V2G, technology for yellow bus fleets.

The CGI working group has been actively seeking partners this past year, holding talks with key officials in Massachusetts as well as North Carolina, Illinois and California.

“Some people thought V2G was just a theory, but there are already demonstration projects going in the state of Delaware, which shows it can happen and people can get paid for plugging in their car when they’re not using it,” Matthews said.

He added that the group plans to start putting buses into school-district use for a yearlong study period in late 2014. Once that is complete, NSI will collect and analyze all data and create a report, which will take four to six months. Once the report is out, companies such as Smith Electric, TransTech Bus, Thomas Built Buses, Blue Bird and others can review the data and determine the best way to build and market EV school buses to school districts and bus contractors, Matthews explained.

Meanwhile, the Patrick Administration is investing $2 million in additional funding to the Massachusetts Electric Vehicle Incentive Program, operated by MassDEP, for a second round of incentives for municipalities to acquire electric vehicles and install charging stations. 

Up to $7,500 per electric vehicle and up to $15,000 per publicly accessible charging station will be available to eligible entities including municipalities, state agencies, and public universities and colleges. The deadline for submitting applications is Feb. 14.

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