Older diesel-powered school buses are among the vehicles eligible for the latest round of Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grant funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to purchase newer, reduced emissions vehicles, or to add emissions and idle reduction devices.
School buses must compete with other industries for the approximately $40 million in National Clean Diesel Grants. The other industries include Class 5-8 trucks; locomotive engines; marine engines; off-road engines, equipment and vehicles; and agriculture, mining and energy generators and pumps.
Applications are due by June 12. EPA said it expects to announce 20-80 grant winners in July, with funding dispersed between September and November of this year.
Student transportation entities that can apply for funds include school districts among regional, state, local and tribal agencies. Private school bus companies can partner with school districts, but must be included in the Requests for Proposal, which must include a project narrative of no more than 11 pages, application for federal assistance, budget information, fleet description and emission reduction calculations.
The DERA funds cover new clean diesel, CNG, or propane school buses, as well as zero-emissions battery school buses, where available. Exhaust controls such as diesel oxidation catalysts, diesel particulate filters, Selective Catalyst Reduction and upgrade kits that are listed on the EPA’s and California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) list of verified list of technologies, are also eligible projects for funding.
While DERA does not provide money for fueling infrastructure, funds can be used for eligible cleaner fuels and additives that are verified by the EPA and California Air Resources Board for use in an existing diesel engine, such as biodiesel.
Funds can also be used to cover up to 40 percent of the labor and equipment cost of replacing an older gasoline fuel system in school buses that are built on Ford E-350 and GM Savana cutaway chassis, with approved CNG or propane conversion systems powered by a 2018 model year or newer certified engine.
Other uses of the money include diesel engine replacements, EPA-verified idle reduction technologies and Low Rolling Resistance Tires.