A recent webinar shared how school districts can access funding opportunities for electrification of their bus fleets.
The California Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) is a leading program in the U.S. to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation vehicles. School districts can earn credits based on how many clean fuel and energy buses a school district is running and how much those buses are being used. The LCFS program runs through at least 2030.
Washington state has a bill that just moved out of the House and into the Senate. At least 12 other states including Connecticut, New Jersey and New York, are also currently looking to add similar programs.
SRECTrade is a company that helps manages clean energy projects and tasks for districts, since securing funding for clean fuel vehicles is a complicated process, explained Mike Saxton, the company’s managing director of clean transportation.
“You could be getting paid just for operating the equipment you already own,” he added.
Iman Nordin, manager of client development, shared that SRECTrade helps access and generate revenue from clean fuel programs and drive down operational costs for their clients like school districts. She added that the company assists 50,000 clients across the U.S. generate revenue form their existing assets, whether they are alternative fuels like electric, or solar or wind.
The recurring revenue stream from clean fuel programs can be used to accelerate a district’s transition to a green fleet. Funds are stackable on top of such things as the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust funds available nationwide or California’s HVIP or Carl Moyer Program funds – all of which are used to purchase the buses and infrastructure.
Clean fleet operators operate their vehicles and report their fuel data, thus earning credits which they can sell to operators of vehicles that emit more pollution.
In answering an attendee question, Nordin stated that credits do not expire but they cannot be earned retroactively on previous clean fleet activity. She stressed that running a green fleet without also participating in the clean fuel credit program is essentially leaving money on the table
However, the relationship between sellers and buyers (like oil refiners and importers such as Shell, Exxon Mobile and Chevron) is complicated, and that’s where SRECTrade helps.
Pittsburgh USD’s Success Story
Matthew Belasco is the director of maintenance, operations, and transportation at Pittsburg Unified School District, which is located in a socioeconomic-distressed area near San Francisco. He has been in the industry for 25 years and is an early leader in clean energy.
About 85 percent of his fleet consists of electric, propane or clean diesel buses. He’s generated about $5,000 in clean fuel program revenue, which he termed free money the district wasn’t expecting.
He recommended using a smart charging system for electric buses to provide more insights into pertinent energy data.
Working with a knowledgeable partner like SRECTrade helps simplify what can be a very complicated process, Belasco added.
“It’s very challenging. There are lots of hoops and red tape to jump through,” he acknowledged.
But it’s worth it for the community, he added.
How to Make Credits Work
Evan Rosenberg, SRECTrade’s senior manager of client development, explained that because credits can be transferred, it’s important that all parties understand their value so they can best decide whether to retain them or allow another party to take ownership of them. SRECTrade can perform a revenue assessment to help determine this, as every case is different.
Smart chargers are important to gather the type of data that is needed, especially at scale. Rosenberg noted that benefits increase with larger fleets.
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As most district transportation departments are mostly focused on fleet operation and transporting students, SRECTrade can provide the helping hand to navigate the credit market and interact with potential buyers as well as monitor evolving regulations.
Saxton noted that there is no out-of-pocket cost to districts to take advantage of the company’s services. They are paid in fees only once the districts receive revenue from selling credits.
Rosenberg said that districts must make sure their operations are set up properly to participate in their chosen clean fuel programs but once they are, the revenue stream is ongoing as long as the fleet remains in operation.
Belasco added that 90 percent of the work was done for Pittsburgh USD behind the scenes with data the district provided to SRECTrade.
“It was an extremely easy process to get moving on,” he shared.
“We’re kind of a combination of high finance, policy experts and administrators, and tree huggers here at SRECTrade, really dedicated to your success with these clean fuel programs,” Saxton quipped.
For districts that are at the beginning of their clean fuel journey, SRECTrade can help with the planning and determination of what strategy would be best for its individual needs.