Sunrise brief: New York offers funds for electric bus transition


New York State is providing $16.4 million in incentives to expand electric bus usage among public transportation authorities, as well as $2.5 million for school bus operators to acquire cleaner forms of transportation with lower emissions.

Under the New York Truck Voucher Incentive Program (NYTVIP) program, $16.4 million from Volkswagen emission-scandal settlement funds will be made available to five of the largest public transit operators in the state: the Capital District Transportation Authority, Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, Rochester-Genesee Regional Transit Authority, Suffolk County Transportation and Westchester County Bee-Line Bus System. The goal is to help drive the fleets’ transition towards 100% zero-emissions vehicles by 2035. Combined, these transit operators currently run more than 1,300 transit buses.

Under the newly announced program, purchasers of new, zero-emission all-electric transit buses are eligible to have all of the incremental vehicle cost covered. In return, the buses must be housed at bus depots or operate on routes located within a half-mile of a disadvantaged community.

In addition, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) will provide more than $1 million for a new program to help the five transit operators develop plans to convert to all-electric transit buses. Through this program, NYSERDA and NYPA will work with a competitively selected, pre-qualified contractor to study how to transition to electric bus fleets and install the needed charging stations in a cost-effective way.

Areas of study include transit-operated facilities and parking lots that could become large-scale charging hubs, utility upgrades, route-based charging, high-speed charging to extend bus range, resiliency planning, and backup power solutions.

Another $2.5 million is also available through the NYTVIP to school bus operators to support the purchase of cleaner, less polluting buses. The money will help cover up to 100% of incremental costs for all-electric school buses operating near a disadvantaged community. The program is intended to reduce the cost to buy new, clean electric or alternative-fueled buses through point of sale rebates offered through a qualified vendor.

The New York State Office of General Services (OGS) issued a Request for Information (RFI) on December 23, seeking details from manufacturers and dealers about electric and hybrid transit buses currently available in the marketplace. Responses to the RFI are due by January 21, and will be used to develop a solicitation for electric and hybrid buses.

To date, NYTVIP has helped the Rochester-Genesee Regional Transit Authority buy five of its 10 electric transit buses; the Capital District Transportation Authority has acquired three of its four electric buses under the program. Other transit operators, including Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have also bought electric buses through the program. Niagara-Frontier Transportation Authority, Suffolk County Transportation, and Westchester County Bee-Line Bus System, are in the process of buying electric buses.

Fluence adds an investor

Global energy storage provider Fluence said it will receive $125 million from the Qatar Investment Authority through a private placement transaction. Net proceeds will be used to further develop the company’s product offerings, particularly digital products, and deployment of existing products in more markets around the world. Read the full story here.

Arizona pv project changes hands

Asset management firm Capital Dynamics said that its Clean Energy Infrastructure business has acquired the remaining 69.98% interest in Arlington Valley Solar Energy II, a 175 MW solar photovoltaic project in Arizona. It bought the project from funds managed by affiliates of Apollo Global Management.

CEI acquired a 30.02% interest in AVSE II as part of the acquisition of three solar PV projects from LS Power in November. With the acquisition from Apollo Funds, Capital Dynamics now holds a 100% interest in the project. The firm’s solar PV portfolio includes Centinela Solar Energy, 252 MW project in Imperial County, California; Arlington Valley Solar Energy II, a 175 MW project in Maricopa County, Arizona; and Dover Sun Park, an 11 MW project in Dover, Delaware.

Legislation looks to DER in wildfire-prone California

Distributed energy resources like solar and electric vehicles could play a larger role in keeping the lights on when wildfires threaten widespread power outages in California. State senator Bill Dodd, D-Napa, introduced legislation to encourage the state to plan for continuous electricity during wildfire-driven power outages without relying on fossil fuel-powered backup generation.

“Power shutoffs during our ever-increasing fire seasons are imposing enormous costs on California, prompting a rush to buy carbon-emitting backup generators to serve critical facilities,” said Dodd. His bill is known as Senate Bill 99, the Community Energy Resilience Act of 2021. If enacted, it would set up a grant program administered in part by the California Energy Commission. Interested local governments then could plan for alternative energy such as solar power for critical facilities.

Dodd represents a part of the state hard hit by wildfires this year. He said the proposal builds on the fact that more than a million California businesses already have solar power and that electric vehicles are making a substantial contribution to the energy grid.

The proposal was first introduced in February as Senate Bill 1314, but action was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Supporters at the time included The Climate Center, Microgrid Resources Coalition, Center for Sustainable Energy, Clean Coalition, Vote Solar and California Solar and Storage Association.

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