Diesel Bus and Vehicle Program FAQ

Diesel Bus and Vehicle Program FAQ

Application Submission

Application Submission

  • Will a receipt be sent when the application is submitted?
    • Yes. You will receive an email that the application was received. 
  • Do I need to use the same project title throughout?
    • Yes. Be consistent with all file names per the application instructions.
  • If I want to replace vehicles or equipment eligible under different programs within the Diesel Bus and Vehicle Replacement Program RFP, do I need to complete separate applications for each?
    • Yes, if you wish to replace or repower buses or vehicles for different programs, you must submit separate applications for each program, and they will be evaluated and scored independently.
  • Does each person need an NCID and what is it for?
    • Each person will need to register as an Individual.
    • Each person on the project needs a separate NCID.  These IDs will be linked together in the Grant Management System. 
  • Who can sign the application?
    • The person who signs the application can be the authorized representative, the project manager, or the financial contact listed in the application. The application is non-binding.
  • Who is the authorized representative? 
    • The person who signs the fully executed contract, a legally binding document, needs to be the authorized representative for your organization (e.g. CFO, CEO).
  • How should letters of support be submitted?
    • All supporting documentation including letters of support must be submitted as an attachment with the project application. NCDEQ will not accept letters of support not submitted with an application.
  • How should letters of support be addressed?
    • Letters of support must accompany the project application as an attachment only. Any other method will not be accepted.
  • Our project has vehicles located in multiple counties, what address and county do I use for “Project Location” in the application?
    • A separate multi-county fleet application has been created and made available on our web page. Both applications will use the same vehicle detail spreadsheet.
  • The Diesel Bus & Vehicle Program spreadsheet only has space for ten vehicles/equipment. How can I add space for more than ten vehicles?
    • You can copy and paste additional columns in the spreadsheet for the number of vehicles in your proposal.
  • Will NCDOT submit a separate application for transit buses?
    • Transit authorities are encouraged to contact Samantha Bryant or Hanna Cockburn at NCDOT Public Transportation Division.
    • Hanna Cockburn – Director, Bicycle and Pedestrian and Public Transportation – jcockburn@ncdot.gov.
    • Samantha Bryant – Procurement Specialist - slbryant@ncdot.gov.
  • Do we provide information about our entire fleet, or just the ones that we are replacing?
    • No, you only need to provide information for vehicles you are proposing to replace.
  • Can return on investment be included?
    • No.
  • Will I need to reapply for future phases?
    • Yes. Applications will not carry over from Phase 1.
  • With respect to school buses, who submits the application?
    • The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is applying for the entire state for the yellow school buses using state funds.
  • Will you accept individual applications for activity buses not funded by DPI?
    • Counties CAN apply on their own for funding a project for yellow school buses. In these cases, DPI will not be purchasing the buses with state funds and the county will need to fund the project. In these cases, the county must notify Kevin Harrison at DPI to remove their bus from DPI’s list.
  • How do you submit supplemental information?
    • Submit as an attachment to the email following the file naming convention as outlined in the application.
  • For on-road requests, how detailed should the information be?
    • All information requested on the application is required. Incomplete applications will not be evaluated.
  • If we apply early, will you review to make sure everything is there?
    • Yes. All applications received by the deadline will be reviewed for completeness. We encourage everyone to submit their applications well before the September 30, 2019 5P.M. Eastern Time deadline.
  • How are projects defined?
    • A single application comprises a single project. A single application can include many vehicles of the same program category and location, but a separate application should be submitted for vehicles in different programs, i.e. school buses and transit buses.  


  • Where do I find information about eligibility?
    • A list of eligible projects can be found in the RFP Section II. Overview. Cost share information can be found in Section III. Funding.
  • What fuel type of vehicles/equipment are eligible for replacement or repower?
    • No funds awarded under this RFP shall be used to cover expenses to replace or repower non-diesel equipment or vehicles. Funding under this RFP cannot be used for the purchase of vehicles, or equipment to expand a fleet.
  • If an applicant already purchased a bus or vehicle, are they eligible for funding?
    • Unfortunately, no. Projects initiated prior to submitting a proposal application are not eligible for funding. Project initiation activities that may disqualify a proposal application include ordering equipment, hiring a contractor or vendor to complete the project.
  • Are ports considered public entities?
    • The existing ports in North Carolina are a Division under the Department of Transportation and therefore are considered a government agency and are public. If a private company that does business at the port is interested in applying for VW Settlement funds, the lead applicant would need to be the port authority and the private business would be in a binding partnership with the port authority.
  • Are EMS and fire trucks eligible for funding as local freight trucks?
    • EMS and local freight trucks are eligible in the local freight truck class 4-7 and class 8 eligible mitigation categories. EMS and fire truck projects will be reviewed and scored on the same project scoring criteria as for all the Diesel Bus and Vehicle Program applications found in the RFP.
  • Would a water and/or sewer authority be eligible as a public entity? 
    • Yes. The definition of government as defined in the RFP is a state or local government agency (including a school district, municipality, city, county, special district, transit district, joint powers authority, or port authority, owning fleets purchased with government funds), and a tribal government or native village.
  • What about eligible entities with respect to public-private partnerships?
    • The lead agency must be a public agency or organization and a representative from that agency or organization must sign the application.
    • Example – airports that are run by airport authority, but individual airlines own the ground support equipment.
  • I want to replace a sanitation side loader. Is this an eligible vehicle?
    • Yes. This vehicle type would be eligible under the Clean Heavy-duty On-road Equipment Program, please refer to the RFP for eligible engine model years for this program.
  • Where do state universities fall in the match?
    • State universities are considered a government agency.
Emissions Modeling/Estimates

Emissions Modeling/Estimates

  • What models are acceptable for estimating NOX and other pollutants from diesel vehicles?
    • The NCDEQ is using the EPA Diesel Emissions Quantifier because it is the industry standard for estimating NOX emissions.
    • The NCDEQ also uses Argonne National Laboratories GREET model, which estimates other pollutant emissions.
  • Can a manufacturer’s NOX data be submitted instead of estimating them with the EPA Diesel Emissions Quantifier or Argonne National Laboratories GREET models?
    • Yes. Please include clear documentation from EPA or California Air Resources Board as supplemental information.
  • How do I determine “Annual Diesel Reduced” in the spreadsheet?
    • Annual diesel gallons reduced should be from new engine efficiency, not changes in use.
  • Where are the county level emissions from?
    • The 2014 National Emissions Inventory Version 2 is compiled and produced by the U.S. EPA every three years.
  • I am applying to replace a sanitation truck with a newer diesel truck, but another city is going to buy an electric truck. Would they get more NOx emissions reductions?
    • Yes. The EPA Diesel Emissions Quantifier tool will estimate the NOx reductions in each scenario.  There are many factors that determine NOx emissions reductions in addition to vehicle type.
  • Are backhoes and tractors considered off-road vehicles?
    • Yes. Backhoes and tractors are considered eligible under the Clean Heavy-duty Off-road Equipment Program - DERA Option. Please be aware the DERA Option does have mandatory cost share requirements regardless if the project is government or non-government owned. Refer to the EPA 2019 State Clean Diesel Grant Program Information Guide for cost share amounts.
Vehicle Questions

Vehicle Questions

  • What is meant by "useful life" and how is it determined?
    • Useful life is the difference between the current age of the vehicle and the estimated age at end of its life.
    • Useful life is calculated by using default values from U.S. EPA Diesel Emissions Quantifier (see table below) or by submitting certified maintenance records.


Size or Type

Median Life

Maximum Life



19 years

30 years


HP< 50

10 years

20 years

51 < HP < 300

15 years

30 years

HP > 301

20 years

40 years



60 years

70 years

Line Haul

30 years

40 years


25 years

30 years

  • Can we buy a used vehicle to replace the old diesel vehicle? Can replacement engines for repower projects be used?
    • No. All buses and vehicles purchased with this RFP must be 2019 or newer. Any engines purchased with this RFP for repower projects must a new engine with the engine model year in which the project occurs or one model year prior.
  • Does the bus or vehicle being replaced or repowered need to be operational?
    • Yes, all buses or vehicles must be operational and currently in service to qualify for replacement or repower under this RFP.
  • Would leased vehicle replacements qualify under your state program? If so, how long would the lease need to be to qualify?
    • Per the RFP Section V – Use of Funds Restrictions, “All replacement equipment and vehicles must be purchased and not leased.”
  • Can we buy a used vehicle to replace the old diesel vehicle? Can replacement engines for repower projects be used?
    • No. All buses and vehicles purchased with this RFP must be 2019 or newer. Any engines purchased with this RFP for repower projects must a new engine with the engine model year in which the project occurs or one model year prior.
  • What is the definition of local freight truck?
    • Per the RFP, Appendix E: Definitions, “Local Freight Trucks” shall mean trucks used to deliver cargo and freight within a 200-mile radius of their base.
  • I do not know what the engine model year will be for my replacement vehicle, how do I fill the required information in for the spreadsheet?
    • The VW Consent Decree requires that an estimate of emission reductions associated with the projects funded under the settlement be calculated and submitted to the Mitigation Trustee. Using the EPA Diesel Emissions Quantifier requires the engine model year as input for the calculations. According to the consent decree the engine model year must be 2018 or newer for replacement vehicles. The applicant should assume that the engine model year will be for the year of when the replacement occurs or one year earlier.
  • Will there be an opportunity for this money to be used on propane conversions on diesel vehicles?
    • An engine repower is eligible for funding for certain vehicle types and can be alternatively fueled. Infrastructure costs are only eligible for all-electric repowers.
    • Please refer to Diesel Bus and vehicle Program RFP, Section II. Overview – Cost Share Requirements pages 5-8 and the Mitigation Plan, Appendix A.
  • What does replace like-for-like vehicles mean?
    • This means replacement with the same class and vehicle type. 
    • There may be differences in weight, efficiency, and length which will be scored on a case-by-case basis, please provide justification in the narrative or supplemental documentation.
  • Can a diesel shuttle bus be replaced with a bi-fuel (gas and propane) shuttle bus?
    • Yes. NCDEQ will conduct a case-by-case assessment of the narrative so please submit good documentation.
    • Gasoline fueled only on-road vehicles are not eligible for this funding.
  • If I am replacing a transit bus with an electric transit bus will the charging infrastructure costs be included?
    • Yes. A single charger can be included for each electric bus purchased.
  • If I am replacing off-road diesel vehicle with an electric vehicle will the charging infrastructure costs be included?
    • Yes.  A single charger can be included for each electric off-road vehicle purchased.
  • What is considered like-for-like when talking about the size of a transit bus?
    • We realize that electric transit buses can be longer and can weigh more so explain in the narrative that the route is similar, and the use is similar.
  • If we got rid of two trucks and replace it with one, is that okay?
    • Yes. A case-by-case analysis will determine the NOx reductions. 
    • The application narrative must clearly explain how this truck can do the work of two trucks.
  • Would a DC Fast charger for several electric transit buses be eligible?
    • Yes.  A diesel bus must be replaced, and an electric bus is purchased for which the charger will service. Funding is only allowable for one charger per electric vehicle/repower funded.
    • Costs for the charging infrastructure alone is not eligible.
  • Will the 2020 vehicles that have not been certified by EPA delay the project?
    • If the vehicles chosen for a project have not been EPA certified, then yes. Applicants should make sure the vehicles they choose are certified by EPA prior to purchasing the vehicles.
  • Is there a maximum or minimum number of vehicles?
    • There is a minimum number of one, there is no maximum.  NCDEQ reserves the right to partially fund projects.
  • There seems to be a discrepancy with the school bus replacement versus repower projects, especially regarding propane repowered buses, please explain.
    • The Department of Public Instruction oversees county school bus replacements when state funds are used. They are not supporting repower projects because they have not seen a viable repower that is cost effective, so it is better to buy a new vehicle.
    • Individual applications should be submitted for repower projects and the school district should notify Kevin Harrison. The individual district would need to use their own funds for the project.
  • Do freight switchers include those around the transfer station?
    • Per the RFP, “Freight Switcher” shall mean a locomotive that moves rail cars around a rail yard as compared to a line-haul engine that move freight long distances.
  • Would a hybrid vehicle be considered an electric vehicle?
    • No. The vehicle must be fully electric. A hybrid vehicle is considered an alternate fueled vehicle.
  • What program does shuttle buses fall under?
    • Shuttle buses are eligible under the Transit Bus Program.
Vehicle Scrappage

Vehicle Scrappage

  • What does “destroy” or “scrapping” the vehicle mean?
    • A three-inch hole must be drilled in the engine and the chassis must be cut in half. This is a requirement of the VW Consent Decree.
    • Photographic documentation must be submitted to NCDEQ prior to reimbursement.
    • These vehicles cannot go back on the road.
  • Why do old buses and vehicles have to be scrapped?
    • It is a requirement of the federal settlement. This program was set up because of diesel tampering by VW, which resulted in increased NOx pollution. To assure an overall reduction of NOx emissions, all old vehicles to be replaced must be destroyed under this program. Otherwise, they would continue to pollute.
  • Can the cost to scrap a bus or vehicle be included in the project application budget?
    • No. The cost to scrap a vehicle is the responsibility of the vehicle owner and is not reimbursable under this RFP. This cost is often offset by the metal/parts value.
  • May I use any parts of the old bus or vehicle once it is scrapped?
    • Yes. You may remove and reuse any component not related to the engine, exhaust or pollution control equipment. You may reuse things like tires, wheels, seats, lights, etc.
Rural/Urban Split and Environmental Justice

Rural/Urban Split and Environmental Justice

  • How will the rural – urban/suburban split for project funding work?
    • NCDEQ has committed to splitting the funds between urban/suburban counties (68%) and rural counties (32%) based on where the subject VW vehicles were registered. Applications will be sorted and evaluated based on the county classification which can be found in the mitigation plan.
  • How is project area defined with respect to Environmental Justice?
    • At the county level. These scores are predetermined by the NCDEQ Environmental Justice team. See Appendix B of the RFP for additional information.
  • Will the Environmental Justice numbers change over time?
    • Yes. It is possible that these numbers may change in subsequent phases, given changes in the tier designations, national emission inventory, or census numbers.
  • Will urban and rural projects will be ranked separately?
    • Yes. Urban/suburban and rural projects will be ranked separately.
  • What if there is a large project that includes urban and rural counties?
    • NCDEQ will evaluate these projects on a case-by-case basis.
    • Where possible, submit separate applications for urban/suburban and rural projects.
  • Is suburban a separate category?
    • No. Urban and suburban are grouped together.
  • How will a project be scored when a transit bus travels from rural areas to urban centers?
    • NCDEQ will evaluate these projects on a case-by-case basis.
    • Where possible, submit separate applications for urban/suburban and rural projects.
  • The transit buses that travel from the rural areas to the urban centers are rotated so that each bus gets similar use.  How can we explain this for our project?
    • NCDEQ will evaluate these projects on a case-by-case basis.
    • Where possible, submit separate applications for urban/suburban and rural projects.
Project Costs

Project Costs

  • Are quotes from vendors okay to help estimate project costs?
    • Yes – but do not enter into a contract with them before you receive a signed Fully Executed Contract from NCDEQ.
  • Is infrastructure included in the cost or is it in-kind?
    • The only eligible infrastructure costs are those associated with electric vehicles; all other infrastructure costs are not eligible. These costs can be part of the in-kind or voluntary cost-share contributions.
  • How do we break out costs by vehicle if the costs aren’t equivalent?
    • If the vehicles are in the same program, then include this information in the spreadsheet. Also provide this information as supplemental documentation.
  • How do local governments budget for equipment and timing of receiving Fully Executed Contract?
    • The money needs to be in place because this is a reimbursable project.
  • How does the procurement of these items work?
    • Only get quotes – work cannot be started until there’s a Fully Executed Contract (signed by both awarded applicant and NCDEQ).
  • Are there procurement guidelines?
    • Yes. Items on state contract can be purchased where appropriate.
  • Would federal funding be placed under “other” money in the budget?
    • Yes. Please indicate the funding source in the “Other Funding” column.
  • What’s the definition of a voluntary cost share?
    • Voluntary cost share is a form of leveraging. Voluntary cost sharing is when an applicant proposes to legally commit to provide contributions to support the project when a cost share is not required. Applicants who purpose to use a voluntary cost share must include the contributions for the voluntary cost share in the project budget.
    • Voluntary cost share may be a service that a staff person can perform; or monies that can be added to the project other than administrative costs.
    • In-kind and voluntary cost share are the same thing.
  • Does documentation need to be included to describe the quotes from the vendors?
    • No.  However, this information may be helpful for project evaluation.
  • Has the length of time for delivery from vendors been considered?
    • Yes – we do this with the DERA grants. Typical contract length is two years; if longer is needed NCDEQ will need more information.
  • Are city contracts still timely when those contracts take time to go through the approval / signature process?
    • Fully Executed Contracts with NCDEQ should take two months, however we acknowledge that these might take longer at the local level.
    • Please prepare well in advance for Phase 2 and 3.
  • Can we use existing state-term contracts already in place prior to the purchase?
    • Yes, if you are eligible to use items on state contract, but you may not purchase any vehicles until you have a fully executed contract.
Project Scoring

Project Scoring

  • Are vehicles within one project scored separately or together as one project?
    • An individual score will be calculated for each vehicle in case a project can’t be funded completely.
    • Vehicle types will be scored separately (e.g. school buses separate from transit buses).
  • We have vehicles that are used in multiple counties, how will the Environmental Justice and location scores be determined?
    • An aggregate Environmental Justice score and location score will be determined by primary service county of each vehicle for the total project.
  • When including infrastructure costs, will an applicant’s project have a lower score than someone who applies without infrastructure costs (for electric buses)?
    • Yes.
  • Is there going to be a preference in reviewing the applications with respect to larger projects or single vehicle project?
    • No. The evaluations will follow the scoring criteria as outlined in the RFP.
  • If a government entity wants to provide matching funds, will they receive more points in the scoring?
    • Yes. Matching funds are considered in the cost effectiveness scoring criteria.
  • Will replacing an older vehicle score higher?
    • In some cases, yes. However, useful life is also considered for mitigation purposes. Older vehicles generally have lower tiered engines, please refer to the RFP for eligible engine model years for each program.
  • Because there are no points assigned to essay portion, will it just be used for a tie-breaker?
    • No. Essays will be used to evaluate the competitiveness of the project.


  • When can awarded applicants purchase buses or vehicles their project?
    • Once a grant is awarded, the recipient must sign a contract with NCDEQ. NCDEQ will send the applicant a fully executed signed contract via email. After receiving the signed contract, the awardee may start the project. Any purchases initiated prior to receipt of the fully executed signed contract will not be reimbursed.
  • Can other funding can be used as a match?
    • Yes. Other funds can be used as a match.
  • Can funds from other federal sources be used as a match?
    • Yes, federal money can be used as a match; although it may have its own restrictions like Buy America. The applicant must determine if there are any restrictions for the federal funding used.
  • Where in the budget do in-kind or matching funds go in the application?
    • There is a column in the application budget table for in-kind and matching funds. 
  • Will NCDEQ be partially funding projects?
    • Yes. Per the RFP, NCDEQ reserves the right to partially fund projects.
  • When are Phase 2 and 3 going to occur?
    • NCDEQ will start Phase 2 planning in 2020.
  • Do you anticipate the distribution of funds for each phase to be the same?
    • Each phase was allocated $30.6 million in the N.C. Mitigation Plan, but we may combine phases 2 and 3 into on final phase.
  • How will the reimbursements be issued?
    • Reimbursements will be based on the terms of the contract. Contracts are set up 90/10, where 90 percent of the awarded funds may be requested for reimbursement. The final 10 percent of the awarded funds will be reimbursed when the final report documentation is submitted and received by NCDEQ.


  • What if I missed a workshop?
    • Workshop presentations are available to download on our webpage.
    • Application tutorials are also available on our webpage.
  • Will verbal or written feedback be provided if the proposal is turned down so that a better proposal can be submitted in Phase 2.
    • NCDEQ will provide overall project rankings and program rankings on our webpage, this will allow you to know how your project ranked against the other projects.
  • Will all the money in Phase 1 be awarded to projects?
    • Yes – but if funds are not spent or projects are cancelled, the state is required to return all unspent funds to the Trustee and must submit a new request for additional project funding.
  • Will Level 2 be public only?
    • No.  The RFP will be open to everyone, but the private sector will need to provide a cost share per the VW Consent Decree requirements. Cost share details will be included in the RFP when it is released.
  • Can I apply for funding to purchase heavy duty EV charging under the diesel RFP?
    • Yes, under the following conditions: charging infrastructure is eligible under the Diesel Bus & Vehicle Replacement Program for projects requesting an electric vehicle replacement on a 1-for-1 basis.