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US EPA announces nearly $1 billion in awards for clean school buses

9 January 2024

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the selection of 67 applicants to receive nearly $1 billion through EPA’s first Clean School Bus Program Grants Competition. The funding will help purchase over 2,700 clean school buses—95% of which will be battery electric vehicles—in 280 school districts in 37 states. The awards are made possible through the US Bipartisan Infrastructure & Jobs Law.

With this announcement, the Clean School Bus Program has awarded nearly $2 billion and funded approximately 5,000 electric and low-emission school buses nationwide, the EPA said. This funding level is equivalent to an average of $400,000 per school bus.

According to a 2022 CNBC report, battery-electric versions of small Type A school buses cost around $250,000, compared to $50,000 to $65,000 for diesel versions. Full-size Type C or Type D electric buses ranged from $320,000 to $440,000, while diesel versions cost about $100,000.

However, the Biden administration’s efforts to phase out diesel school buses may be delayed not only by the high upfront costs of electric buses, but also by the limited charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. According to a recent report by the EPA’s Office of Inspector General, “the Agency may be unable to effectively manage and achieve the [Clean School Bus] program mission unless local utility companies can meet increasing power supply demands for electric school buses.”

Zero-emission school bus mandates have been adopted in some states. In New York state, the purchase of diesel school buses will be banned starting from 2027. Republican senators expressed concerns over the “crushing financial costs” for school districts and sent a letter to New York Governor Hochul requesting that she rescind the electric bus mandate or commit to fully funding the conversion.

Source: US EPA | The Guardian