School buses might not be running as usual this fall, but state planners are still working on getting kids to school on a greener footing.
With the announcement of new grants today, Minnesota is the first state in the Midwest to launch a pilot project to help fund the purchase of all-electric school buses, gather data, and report the results of how this clean vehicle technology performs in our climate. Tapping funds from the national Volkswagen settlement, MPCA will award successful applicants up to $275,000 or 75% of the total project cost (including vehicle and charging equipment). The new electric school buses are expected to begin transporting students in fall 2022.
“Our children deserve clean air and a better climate,” says MPCA Commissioner Laura Bishop. “This innovative pilot will make cleaner bus technology more accessible for schools, and provide valuable information about how we can continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Minnesota. If the pilot is successful, our goal is to make more of these smart investments in the future.”
Electric school buses offer great potential for eliminating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from vehicles. Vehicle emissions are a primary source of GHGs, and older diesel buses can emit significant amounts. Changing from diesel to all-electric can reduce GHG emissions by at least 29 tons per vehicle.
“These grants provide a great financial incentive for owners of diesel-powered school buses to take older, more polluting buses off the road and replace them with new electric models,” says Rebecca Place, the MPCA’s project manager for the pilot. “MPCA has led or partnered on a number of projects to upgrade engines in older, primarily diesel-powered school buses, but this is the first time we’ve focused exclusively on electric buses.”
MPCA has $3 million available for these grants and intends to distribute funds throughout the state for one to two projects each in northern Minnesota, central Minnesota, the seven-county Twin Cities metro area, and southern Minnesota. MPCA estimates there are 5,800 diesel school buses in Minnesota that would be eligible for replacement.
For their part, grantees will provide data and information about the buses’ performance for one full school year, including days in use, vehicle miles traveled, kWh/mile, energy costs of charging the bus, mechanical issues and resolution, and overall performance.
Applications are due by October 13, 2020. For more information see the grants webpage.