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Electric School Bus Bill Advances in New York Legislature

Posted by Monique Hanis on May 11, 2021

Approved by the Senate Education Committee today, Senate Bill S5268 offers incentives of up to 20% of cost and sales tax exemption, as well as longer lease terms, to school districts purchasing or leasing electric buses; the bill also allows state aid to be used for charging infrastructure costs.

ALBANY, May 11, 2021 — Today national business group Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) applauded action on a new bill to spur investment in electric school buses across New York State by providing reimbursement of school districts, on a graduated scale based on need, when they purchase or lease electric school buses. The Senate Education Committee voted unanimously to pass SB S5268* out of committee.

“We applaud the Senate Education Committee for approving this bill and Senators Timothy Kennedy (D-63), Andrew Gounardes (D-22), and Michelle Hinchey (D-46) for their support. This legislation will help New York school systems as they transition from diesel-burning school buses to cleaner, quieter electric school buses,” said Daniel Bloom, principal at AEE. “This bill saves school districts and taxpayers money over the long term, all while expediting the adoption of technologies that help us all.” 

The bill has earned wide-ranging support. In a letter to bill sponsors, the American Lung Association urged swift passage to “reduce dangerous co-pollutants in low and moderate-income communities especially those near highways, bus depots, and ports,” noting that the “transportation sector, and buses in particular, accounts for nearly one-third of New York’s greenhouse gas emissions, making it the largest emitter in the state.”

In its memo of support, the New York State School Boards Association, highlighted a provision in the bill that “those school districts that received more state aid would also receive a higher incentive percentage (reimbursement for electric buses), which would ultimately help low-income districts transition to green transportation faster.” The group noted the “bill is an effective tool that allows school districts to reduce their carbon footprint, remedy air quality issues, and provide sustainable funding for renewable infrastructure.”

Large corporations like Siemens and Schneider Electric, electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers Arrival and Proterra, and EV charging infrastructure companies also weighed in with support to “improve air quality for our most vulnerable citizens, yield long-term savings for school districts, and expedite the deployment of innovative technologies to spur economic development in pursuit of reaching New York’s ambitious climate goals.”

Specifically, the bill offers incentives to school districts ranging from 10% to 20% to purchase or lease electric school buses from 2021-2030 based on the amount of state aid the district receives. The bill exempts contracted school buses from the state sales tax and extends the allowable lease term from five to 10 years for electric school buses. If passed, the measure would also allow all costs incurred by a school related to the installation of electric vehicle charging stations, including the cost of acquiring the electric vehicle charging infrastructure and electricity costs for charging electric vehicles, to be considered an expense eligible for state aid. School districts can also apply for New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) grants to help cover certain costs. 

“The bill’s diverse array of supporters – from school boards to public health professionals – demonstrates the importance of electrifying school buses on behalf of our youngest citizens,” said Bloom. “This bill is an important part of the leadership New York State has shown on electric vehicles this session and to date.”

The bill now moves to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration. Its companion bill, A6754*, sponsored by Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy (D-109) and Assemblyman Robert Carroll (D-44), awaits action in the Assembly.

*Note: AEE offers free, complimentary access to its PowerSuite online platform tracking all federal and state energy legislation and regulatory filings, plus RTO/ISO policy action, to credentialed media. Sign up for a free trial and contact Monique Hanis (mhanis@aee.net) for permanent media access.

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Topics: State Policy, Press Releases