Diesel Bus and Vehicle Program

Approximately $24.5 million will be available in Phase 1 for Diesel Bus and Vehicle Programs, which are designed to achieve significant reductions in diesel emissions. 40% of the funds will be allocated for school bus replacement, 20% for transit bus replacement and 10% each for on-road and off-road heavy-duty equipment replacement.

Value and Benefits for Drivers

  • Fuel Savings – Electric buses are highly efficient, and running on electricity is cheaper than diesel fuel. Electricity is also generated locally, and prices have historically been more stable than diesel.

  • Maintenance Savings – Electric buses have fewer moving parts than their non-electric counterparts. Between fuel and maintenance savings (of up to 50%), electric buses can save hundreds of thousands of dollars over their lifetimes that can be invested back into the community.

  • Economic Development – Savings from fuel and maintenance can be reinvested or used for other needs within your department.

  • Air and Noise Improvements – Buses are often used in areas with high concentrations of people. Without vehicle emissions and particulates, electric buses provide cleaner air for our communities. They are even superior when taking into account the electricity needed for charging. Electric buses are also much quieter than other technologies, helping to increase safety and reduce noise pollution.

Application Logistics

  • Applications and supporting documentation must be submitted by 5 p.m. on September 30, 2019, using the downloadable application form at https://deq.nc.gov/VWsettlement-DC-RFP.

  • This is a reimbursement program: Applicants must provide their own funding and then track and document all expenses for reimbursement. Grant payments will be disbursed as reimbursements after the work is completed, verified and approved. Do not purchase anything or start the project until contract documentation is signed with the NCDEQ.

  • Various types of vehicle replacement are available, including school buses, transit buses, and medium-/heavy-duty vehicles for on- and off-road applications (all generally for 2009 engine model years or older).

    • 5% of funds are specifically designated for replacement with electric school buses, but any transit or school bus replacement may receive funding for going electric.

    • The funding is not to expand existing fleets or to install charging infrastructure.

    • All old vehicles being replaced with new vehicles must be taken off the road and scrapped.

  • Eligible applicants include local, state and tribal government organizations; public or private nonprofit organizations; and public/private partnerships where the lead applicant represents a public sector or a public or private nonprofit.

  • A combination of evaluation factors will be considered during the proposal application review process. The NCDEQ will consider the overall cost-effectiveness and the potential for early implementation and completion of each proposal application. The scoring criteria can be found on page 13 of the RFP.

    • 68% of funds will be allocated to urban/suburban counties and 32% to rural counties.

    • Other consideration factors include cost-effectiveness of NOx tons reduced, environmental justice areas, co-benefits, sustainability, timeliness and useful life.

Frequently Asked Questions

    1. Are electric buses already on the road?
      • The Greensboro Transit Authority, Asheville Redefines Transit and Raleigh-Durham International Airport all have electric buses operating in their fleets. GoRaleigh, GoTriangle and Duke University have buses on order.         
    2. What kind of savings can be expected?
      • According to RDU, annual fuel savings are approximately $5,000 per bus, while annual maintenance for electric buses costs 50% that of their diesel counterparts.
    3. Is the electric range long enough to handle our routes?
      • While it depends on the route, the general answer is yes. These buses can offer 100+ miles of driving range per charge. Many transit agencies in North Carolina claim that their buses satisfy 8-10 hour shifts without needing to charge.
    4. How long does it take to charge an electric bus?
      • With a standard 50-60 kW charger, buses can recharge in about 4-5 hours. However, there are faster chargers that offer a charge in as little as 15-30 minutes.

Next Steps

  • Review the RFP and application to determine if you have qualifying buses. If so, reach out to vendors to discuss pricing options and best-fit buses for your needs.

  • Secure quotes that can be used to evaluate your cost estimates for the NCDEQ application.

  • Evaluate how much your company or organization is willing to contribute to the project. The more cost-sharing you can do, the more likely you are to receive funding.

  • Connect with Plug-in NC or your local Clean Cities coalition for help with your application.