Transit Agencies: Gain a competitive advantage for your Lo-No application

3 min read

By Larry Watkins

3 min read
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$1.7 billion: The FTA Low or No Emission Vehicle Program

It’s that time of year again…. And no, we’re not talking about the Academy Awards. Although, these entries are flying in again, and fast! Transit agencies across the U.S. are competing for the FTA’s Low or No Emissions Vehicle funding. Ambitions run high, with nearly $1.7 billion in Fiscal Year 2023 to support state and local efforts to reach ambitious net-zero emission goals and push back against climate change. This program enables the purchasing and leasing of zero- and low-emission transit vehicles as well as the acquisition, construction, and leasing of required supporting infrastructure and facilities to reach ambitious net-zero emission goals and push back against climate change.

Eligible projects include:

  • Purchasing or leasing low- or no-emission buses
  • Acquiring low- or no-emission buses with a leased power source
  • Constructing or leasing facilities and related equipment (including intelligent technology and software) for low- or no-emission buses
  • Constructing new public transportation facilities to accommodate low- or no-emission buses
  • Rehabilitating or improving existing public transportation facilities to accommodate low- or no-emission buses
  • Additionally 0.5% of a request may be for workforce development training and an additional 0.5% may be for training at the National Transit Institute (NTI).

A distinct edge with the right partner(s)

The transportation industry must rise to meet decarbonization, but transit-electrification projects are complex. Most projects will involve retrofitting existing facilities that were designed to service diesel buses with the extensive charging, electrical and fueling infrastructure needed for zero-emission buses. The time and cost associated with infrastructure projects is not linear to the number of buses being transitioned each year – it can be exponential. The utility may need years and many tens of millions of dollars to build the capacity needed to power your fleet – and the ongoing cost of electricity will be subject to rate increases and demand charges that are unpredictable today. Add to the mix the increasing number of utility outages happening across the US, and reliable, resilient zero-emission vehicle fueling infrastructure becomes essential to your transit agency’s service obligations.

One of the most overlooked scope items in Low-No applications is the combined charging and energy infrastructure needed to support the increase in power needed to charge all electric fleet, while ensuring that power is sustainable and reliable. Rolling out a shiny, new fleet of EV buses is only the first step — albeit an impressive one given the hurdles of extra cost, procurement challenges, and acquiring space for charging depots. But building out the right electrification infrastructure to support the EV fleet is where well-intentioned organizations face the biggest roadblocks. What good is the EV fleet if grid capacity cannot support it? So how can transit agencies make a measurable progress towards their goals — now?  The answer: microgrids.

Microgrid-enabled EV infrastructure, like Montgomery County Maryland’s Brookville Smart Energy Bus Depot, offers the ability to substantially reduce the carbon footprint while ensuring reliability and resilience to charge electric vehicles, even in the event of a grid outage. Pitching an integrated charging and energy infrastructure solution, with a proven energy and sustainability partner could be the element to make FTA submissions stand out.

AlphaStruxure: A trusted partner for FTA grants

FTA allows Low-No applicants to list project partners in their application that can be contracted to provide infrastructure and services to complete the scope of the project. Doing so can allow transit agencies to bypass the formal procurement process to deliver projects faster.  

Through its Public-Private Partnership approach, AlphaStruxure can also deploy capital as matching funds to complete grant-funded projects, or in lieu of funds for grants not received for ZEV related projects. Low-No submissions to the FTA will be distinguished by foresight, contingency, and an eye on what works. AlphaStruxure underscores those traits with its EV fleet charging, sustainable infrastructures, and partners that lead the way in EV fleet reliability.

Agencies using an innovative Energy as a Service (EaaS) business model in their entries can further discern themselves with a high-efficiency approach to footprint reduction. Streamlined for local energy systems, microgrid models like AlphaStruxure’s EaaS help zero-emission projects get off the ground faster, avoiding delays that could put funding awards at risk. 

FTA Low or No Emissions Vehicle applications are due April 13th, 2023

AlphaStruxure can lend some insight on how to include energy and charging infrastructure in your Lo-No application, develop a competitive project scope, or work with you to include a partner letter for your application. Email us at

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Deploying microgrids is a key resilience objective for the DoD. Existing EUL and PPA procurement authorities for microgrids can be combined into an Energy as a Service procurement model. The EaaS model draws from the EUL’s authority to execute land leases for the siting of energy infrastructure (microgrids) on DoD installations. It also draws from the PPA’s authority that enables a energy developer to contract with a DoD agency by selling energy in exchange for its services in financing, designing, building, owning, operating, and maintaining energy infrastructure. 
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About the Author

Larry Watkins

Vice President, Development

With over 25 years of extensive expertise spanning commercial, industrial, and sustainable energy design, construction, operations, maintenance, finance, contracts, and development, Larry Watkins excels in developing Energy as a Service (EaaS) solutions for AlphaStruxure within the commercial and industrial sectors.

Since the emergence of EaaS in the market in 2019, Larry has successfully negotiated and closed over $600M in financed EaaS projects. Prior to joining AlphaStruxure, Larry’s career featured roles within some of the nation’s foremost design, construction, operations, and maintenance companies, such as Fluor, Skanska, and Bernhard.

Larry’s leadership extends beyond the corporate sphere. For example, he served a five-year tenure as a member of the Board of Directors for the Associated General Contractors (AR). His educational background encompasses a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), a master’s of engineering degree from the University of Alabama (Birmingham), and a juris doctor degree from the University of Arkansas (Little Rock).

Currently calling Little Rock, Arkansas home, Larry shares his life with his wife and two sons. His commitment to pioneering sustainable energy solutions continues to drive innovation and progress in the industry.

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