MPCA offering more than $1.7 million in grants to replace old diesel school buses with new, cleaner models

Contact: Lauren Lewandowski, 612-270-9615

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) today announced another grants program for school buses, offering over $1.7 million to replace old diesel school buses with new, cleaner diesel, propane, or natural gas models. This is the third round of grants for cleaner-fuel buses, created due to an overwhelming demand by school districts and bus companies around Minnesota.

The grants are funded by the national Volkswagen settlement to help clean up emissions from older diesel vehicles. They aim to reduce diesel emissions and improve air quality and public health by removing older diesel buses (model years 1998–2009) from operation and replacing them with new, lower-emitting buses.

A new clean-burning school bus can range in cost from $85,000 to $100,000 or more. The grants will help eliminate cost barriers by providing crucial financial assistance to for-profit, nonprofit, and public entities, including state, local, and tribal governments looking to replace an old diesel school bus. Funding is divided into two categories based on location:

  • Greater Minnesota: 40% (approximately $680,000) of funds are dedicated to replacing school buses that operate in Greater Minnesota
  • Twin Cities area: 60% (approximately $1,020,000) of  funds are dedicated to replacing school buses that operate in the Twin Cities seven-county metropolitan area

The maximum award per school bus is $15,000, or $20,000 for school districts where 40% or more of the students are eligible for free or reduced-cost lunch. To see if a school district qualifies for a $20,000 grant, visit the School bus replacement grant webpage.

The MPCA’s first grants program to replace diesel buses with cleaner-fuel models in 2018 awarded more than $2 million for new buses in 21 school districts around Minnesota. About half the new buses are powered by propane and the rest by new “clean diesel” technology.

Previous grants from MPCA’s Volkswagen settlement program have targeted air quality improvements through replacing or upgrading older diesel vehicles and equipment, and by funding expansion of the state’s charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. Air pollution from vehicles is the largest source of air pollution across Minnesota, and the common thread though all the grants is leveraging VW settlement funds to reduce emissions from the transportation sector.

Learn more about this grant opportunity during an online training session on August 10, 2021. Applications for grant funds are due by 4:30 p.m. CT on September 10, 2021. For more information on the grants and how to join the online training, visit the MPCA’s grants web page: School Bus replacement grant.