Clean Bus Planning Awards Support Fleet Electrification With Custom Transition Plans

Feb. 20, 2024 | By Christin Jeffers | Contact media relations

An electric public transportation bus at a bus stop.
The Clean Bus Planning Awards program, led by NREL, provides free technical assistance to create custom bus electrification plans for fleets across the country. Photo by Margaret Smith, Akimeka

Transit and school bus fleets across the nation are working hard to incorporate clean transportation solutions that help communities meet decarbonization goals and improve local health outcomes. However, planning for and deploying zero-emission fleets is a tall order, leaving many fleet managers with more questions than answers.

To help solve the problem, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) announced the $5 million Clean Bus Planning Awards (CBPA) program on February 20, which is funded by the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation (Joint Office).

Managed by NREL, the CBPA program provides free technical assistance to create comprehensive and customized bus electrification plans for school and transit fleets across the United States through Fiscal Year 2024.

"The CBPA program meets fleets wherever they are at in the planning process and helps make the overwhelming task of electrification feasible by providing plans that are tailored to the unique needs and requirements of each fleet," said NREL's Abby Brown, senior researcher and Joint Office technical assistance lead.

The electrification process can be a multiyear project for fleets, including in-depth feasibility studies of technology and financing options, a staggered introduction of buses and infrastructure upgrades, and continued performance analysis to ensure a smooth and affordable transition. The process can be intimidating for managers who lack support and resources. That is where the CBPA program comes in.

"CBPA leverages federal funding to tackle the most challenging aspects of a fleet's electrification transition and provides direct support to those who need it most," added Mike Jones, CBPA program lead.

The application period for assistance and planning is now open on a rolling basis, giving fleet managers an opportunity to fully understand their needs before applying for support.

This new program will facilitate electrification by helping managers create step-by-step plans to transition to zero-emission buses. The CBPA program also offers optional fleet deployment assistance that fills the gap between planning and implementation. Participating transit and school bus fleets will also be better prepared to apply for grants such as those from the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean School Bus Program and the Federal Transit Administration's Low or No Emission Grant Program, which help pay for the electrification process.

Learn more about NREL's sustainable transportation and mobility research and the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation. And sign up for NREL's quarterly transportation and mobility research newsletter, Sustainable Mobility Matters, to stay current on the latest news.

Tags: Transportation