2024 is starting off strong in the world of commercial EVs as 67 new applicants have been selected to receive nearly $1 billion through the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program. These funds were made available through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and are allocated to replace traditional diesel school buses with zero-emission and low-emission models.
The latest round of grants will be used to purchase over 2,700 clean school buses in 280 school districts serving more than 7 million students across 37 states. Last year, the initial round distributed over $875 million replacing 2,366 buses at 372 districts. While almost $2 billion has been awarded to date, the fund in full is meant to distribute $5 billion total over the next 5 years.
Over the last two years, we’ve worked with a number of OEM partners, utilities, and school districts to help make school bus electrification smoother. So we wanted to take the time to summarize what makes this grant program so exciting and celebrate what this means for a more sustainable future.
A program with real impact: lowering emissions, supporting the grid and raising funds
First and foremost, the Clean School Bus Program will have an enormous positive impact on the health of children. The exhaust emitted by diesel-fuel buses exposes students to toxins that have been linked by the EPA and the American Cancer Society to health issues such as asthma, lung disease, and even cancer.
Switching to emission-free electric buses will not only reduce these illnesses, it has also been proven to improve attendance rates. Of course, the collective impact of greater adoption of electric school buses will also help to lower overall greenhouse gas emissions.
With extreme weather events becoming the norm, electric school buses can also play a role in supporting the grid in times of high need. When equipped with Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) capabilities, electric school buses become massive mobile batteries whose power can be delivered back to the grid.
Though critics also point to the higher upfront costs of purchasing electric school buses, they require less maintenance over their lifetimes and obviously save on the cost of fuel, saving school districts money in the long run. Moreover, school buses can be turned into a source of revenue. By optimizing buses to charge when rates are lowest, energy can then be sold back to utilities through V2G technology during peak demand at a higher rate, generating additional income for the school.
In a pilot program we conducted in Massachusetts across two summers, a single school bus was able to discharge 10.78 MWh hours to the grid, generating $23,500 in revenue. Considering 86% of grant recipients are school districts in low-income, rural, and tribal communities, this program holds enormous potential to equip these schools with much-needed resources.
While the transition to emission-free transportation for students across the US is just getting started, we’re confident that the more success stories we can help create, the faster wider adoption will occur. So we’d also like to applaud our many partners who are playing key roles in making this transition a reality. We’re looking forward to more opportunities to collaborate and create healthier transportation options for students and their communities!
If you’re curious to learn more about how Synop can help your school district make its transition to electric school buses honor roll worthy, reach out to us directly here: https://www.synop.ai/contact-us.