The EPA details the $ 5 billion electric school bus program

The EPA last week announced 500 million in funding for electric school buses. This is the first installment of $ 5 billion over the next five years for low- and zero-emissions school buses as part of President Biden’s Bilateral Infrastructure Act.

The organization has started accepting applications from school districts and other stakeholders from May 20, 2022 and will continue till August 19, 2022. In a press release, the EPA said it would prioritize applications that would “replace the much-needed local education providers of internal-combustion buses” agencies, tribal schools and rural areas, although actual funding in the form of rebates would still be provided through the lottery system.

In addition to the new buses, discounts can also be applied for hardware charging, the EPA said.

Lion Sea Electric School Bus

Lion Sea Electric School Bus

Most current school buses are diesel-powered, and diesel exhaust has been linked to asthma and other health risks, the EPA noted. Electric buses will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower operating costs for school districts, and potentially help balance the grid through two-way charging, the EPA said.

According to the United States Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG), school buses are the largest public transport, providing 480,000 services per school day, but currently less than 1% electric. Replacing all existing diesel buses with EVs could avoid emitting about 8 million metric tons of greenhouse gases per year, the group said.

The EPA claims that two-way charging could play a role in balancing electric school buses on the grid. Such a large fleet would provide plenty of battery power to absorb excess energy during low demand and drain it during high demand, creating a more stable level of infrastructure, the group said. It can also increase the use of renewable energy, which works best with battery buffers.

Electric school bus from Kings Canyon Unified School District, California

Electric school bus from Kings Canyon Unified School District, California

Electric school buses are no longer a marginal option for environment-friendly school officials. The first hit the U.S. roads in 2014, and existing bus manufacturers like Blue Bird are building them in smaller but growing numbers. Before the federal government stepped in, the Volkswagen diesel settlement also helped move some electric school buses.

That change is gaining momentum. A Lion electric plant for electric school buses is becoming one of the largest in the United States, and Boston aims to have a 100% electric city fleet by 2030 – including school buses. With more funding through bipartisan infrastructure legislation, will the move towards electric school buses be accelerated?

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