The California Energy Commission has approved nearly $70 million in funding to replace more than 200 old, polluting diesel school buses with all-electric buses.
The commission says the electric vehicles will reduce school children’s exposure to harmful emissions and help the state reach its climate and air quality goals.
“School buses are by far the safest way for kids to get to school," says Energy Commissioner Patty Monahan. "But diesel-powered buses are not safe for kids’ developing lungs, which are particularly vulnerable to harmful air pollution. Making the transition to electric school buses that don’t emit pollution provides children and their communities with cleaner air and numerous public health benefits."
The Energy Commission’s School Bus Replacement Program is providing more than $94 million to school districts, county offices of education, and joint power authorities to help transition from diesel school buses to zero- or low-emissions vehicles. In total, the Energy Commission has awarded $89.8 million of the program’s funds to schools in 26 California counties.
The electric buses approvedin the latest action will eliminate nearly 57,000 pounds of nitrogen oxides and nearly 550 pounds of fine particulate matter emissions annually.
Diesel buses emit harmful pollutants, including fine particles that can lodge deep in the lungs and enter the bloodstream. Because children’s lungs are still developing, and because of their faster breathing rate and other factors, children are more susceptible to the adverse health effects linked to air pollution – including lung damage and asthma attacks.
Most of the Energy Commission’s awards support buses in disadvantaged, low-income communities, which are disproportionately affected by air pollution and health problems from poor air quality. Ninety percent of the buses that will be purchased with te $70 million will be operating in disadvantaged communities.
In addition to the health benefits, the switch to electric will save schools money in fuel and repair costs. The Energy Commission estimates that schools will save nearly $120,000 in fuel and maintenance costs per bus over 20 years.
The Energy Commission is using funds from the California Clean Energy Jobs Act, also known as Proposition 39, to provide schools with electric buses.