How listening helped Connecticut’s vocational-technical high school system win electric school bus grant

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If 90% of life is showing up, the other 10% is listening and following up.

Here’s how that 100% led to a $7.6 million federal grant for 25 electric school buses for Connecticut’s vocational-technical high school system.

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EPA’s New England Region held a Connecticut-specific webinar on June 9 of this year on EPA’s Clean School Bus funding program.

Lou Camacho showed up. Camacho is a veteran automotive instructor in Connecticut’s Technical Education and Careers System (CTEC) and is now the manager of the system’s automotive programs as well as its student busing. Greater New Haven Clean Cities (GNHCC) showed up too and asked a lot of questions.

After emailing and a phone call, Camacho explained he was looking to replace 25 buses across the 20-school system and would love to go electric. He had enough funds to replace them with traditional diesel buses but would need additional funds for electric buses.

GNHCC did a little research on options. The team knew New Britain-based school bus operator DATTCO was running Connecticut’s first electric school bus, so on a planning call for a GNHCC webinar, the team mentioned to DATTCO president Don DeVivo what Camacho was looking for.  

Camacho was excited because DATTCO was CTEC’s current bus provider, and he was already talking with them about diesel buses. He could follow up with them about the Clean School Bus funding and electric options.

Fast forward three months and a $7.6 million grant is won! They, literally, won the lottery – and one of the nation’s largest grants. Lou Camacho said, “We are ecstatic!” and thanked GNHCC for the encouragement and support.

This grant is a huge step, and GNHCC will be working with Camacho and DATTCO to keep moving this project forward. Maybe some additional funding will be necessary and state grants included in last year’s SB4 / PA 22-25 Clean Air legislation might help. Perhaps a working alliance with the statewide ACES UP program will produce a win-win solution to building out Connecticut’s school-based EV charging network. Support for CTEC’s electric vehicle training programs might incorporate EVITP certification and help grow Connecticut’s EV-savvy workforce.

It’s a big lift to move people and goods around our state with smarter vehicles that protect our air, reduce respiratory disease and protect Connecticut’s shoreline communities. Leaders like Lou Camacho, CTEC, DATTCO and EPA’s Region 1 staff move us all forward.

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