November 8, 2023

Utility Make-Ready Programs Can Help the Electric School Bus Transition

By: Lexie Lyng

School bus electrification is vitally important for kids’ health but is cost prohibitive for many school districts due to the high upfront cost of electric school buses. Utilities can help school districts electrify their fleets through Make-Ready] programs which aim to make electric bus charging infrastructure more affordable.

Clean Energy Works partnered with WRI’s Electric School Bus Initiative to expand their research on Make-Ready programs beyond investor owned utilities (IOUs) to include rural electric cooperatives and municipal utilities. This research, the  Electric Vehicle (EV) Make-Ready Programs guide, helps define Make-Ready programs and their unique characteristics. The tables in this guide contain program details from Make-Ready programs across the country including participant and charger requirements, infrastructure covered, incentives or rebates offered, as well as operations and maintenance.

Example of Make-Ready Programs for Rural Co-ops in Missouri 

There are two general categories that Make-Ready programs fall into: infrastructure readiness programs and charger rebates. Infrastructure readiness programs cover the full cost or partial cost of infrastructure upgrades both on the utility (line) side and/or the customer (load) side. Upgrades to the line side can include transformer upgrades, line extensions, and meter socket and connection upgrades. Upgrades on the load side can include wiring, panels, breaker panels, laying conduit, and installing disconnects. These infrastructure readiness programs often do not extend to the charger itself.  The second category, charger rebate programs primarily cover the cost of the charger alone.

Most IOU Make-Ready programs fall into the infrastructure readiness category whereas most rural electric cooperative and municipal Make-Ready programs fall into the charger rebate category. Rebate amounts can vary from a rebate of $100 per charger to several thousand dollars per charger depending on the level of charger installed and the type of program. Some programs offer extra rebates for school districts, nonprofits, income-qualified housing, and disadvantaged communities. 

This research on Make-Ready programs from Clean Energy Works and WRI’s Electric School Bus Initiative is a central location for both school districts and community members to find the utility or utilities that serve their districts and discover what programs they offer that can help electrify their bus fleets. These tables can also serve as a resource for utilities who are curious to see what Make-Ready programs other utilities are offering and how they might create a similar program for their community.

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