The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law today not only makes critical investments in our core infrastructure, it creates several new programs to support the increasing electrification of the transportation sector.

Especially notable in the $1.2 trillion package are the investments in electric vehicle charging stations, clean-powered buses, and electric-powered ferries. These investments include:

  • Creating new grants to build out electric vehicle charging station networks
  • Funding to modernize the primarily diesel-fueled fleet of school buses with electric or alternative fuel buses
  • Funding to state and local governments to procure electric or low emissions ferries

Electric Vehicle Charging / Fueling Infrastructure

To support the nationwide buildout of electric charging and alternative fueling stations, the law directs the Secretary of Transportation to establish an Alternative Fuel Corridor grant program. Alternative Fuel Corridors are intended to facilitate long-distance, electric-powered travel by installing accessible charging stations near highly traveled corridors, like near major workplaces and shopping centers. Specifically, the law:

  • Allocates $7.5 billion over five years to build out this alternative fuel infrastructure. As written about previously in our blog, this includes not only electric vehicle charging stations but also hydrogen, propane, and natural gas fueling infrastructure. The buildout will be done by awarding grants to states, local governments, and public authorities with transportation functions, among other entities. For more detail on Electric Vehicle Charging and Alternative Fuel Infrastructure, see our previous blog post.
  • Establishes an electric vehicle working group that will study the “development, adoption, and integration” of electric vehicles into the nation’s “transportation and energy systems.” The Working Group will report to Congress “on barriers to electric vehicle adoption and possible opportunities and solutions.” (See Sec. 25006). A Working Group will also study the impact of forced labor in China on the electric vehicle supply chain.

Electric School Bus Program

The law dedicates funding for the electrification of school buses with an aim towards replacing the existing fleet of diesel-powered school buses with zero-emission buses.

EPA estimates that school buses collectively travel over 4 billion annual miles, transporting 25 million American children every day. Estimates indicate that over 90% of the existing school bus fleet uses diesel-powered buses. Although EPA already administers programs for the electrification of school buses, the law would create new dedicated funding sources for electrification.  The law:

  • Allocates $5 billion over five years for a “Clean School Bus Program” that will replace existing school buses with zero emission school buses, and administered by EPA. (Sec. 741). Eligible entities include a local or State government responsible for providing school bus service or purchasing school buses, an eligible contractor, or a non-profit school transportation association. A “Clean School Bus” includes a zero-emission bus or a reduced emission bus that runs entirely, or in part, on alternative fuel.
  • Under the Clean School Bus Program, the EPA Administrator will award 50% of funding to fund zero-emission school buses, and 50% for alternative fuels and zero-emission school buses. The Administrator is also authorized to provide funds to cover up to 100% of the costs for the replacement of the bus. The law requires the Administrator to “develop an education and outreach program to promote and explain the award program” within 120 days of the law’s passage.
  • Increases funding under section 5339(a), which provides grant funding for low emission buses, from $1.75 million to $4 million. The law also amends section 5339 to raise the rural set-aside in the section 5339(b) – “Buses and Bus Facilities” competitive grant program – from 10% to 15%.

Electric Ferry Program

For some cities, water transportation remains an area of untapped potential for mass transit. The law will provide funding for states and local governments to acquire new electric or low-emitting ferries, or to replace an existing ferry fleet. The law:

  • Establishes a five-year/$250 million Electric of Low Emitting Pilot Program (Sec. 71102) for the purchase of electric or low-emitting ferries and administered by the Secretary of Transportation. Low-emitting ferries can include ferries using methanol, natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, hydrogen, coal-derived liquid fuels, and biofuels.
  • Establishes a five-year/$1 billion program for establishing a “Basic Essential Ferry Service” to rural areas by providing funding to states (Sec. 71103). Rural areas include areas encompassing a population of less than 50,000 people.
  • Makes projects replacing or retrofitting diesel ferries eligible to receive up to 85% federal funding. (Sec. 11117).

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