Gov. Ralph Northam announced the initiative during a Climate Week NYC event hosted by the United States Climate Alliance.
“School buses are the safest way to transport students to and from school, but as a pediatric doctor, I know the harmful effects of diesel-powered buses on our children’s health,” says Northam. “This initiative represents a significant investment in the electrification of our transportation system, in our efforts to address the climate crisis, and in an environment that allows Virginia children to learn, grow, and thrive.”
Starting in early 2020, school districts in Virginia can apply for funding distributed by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality through a competitive application process that will be administered in partnership with the Department of Education.
Nearly all of Virginia’s school bus fleet runs on diesel. About 3,500 buses are older than 10 years. More than 500 buses still in operation use engines built prior to the first Environmental Protection Agency diesel standards.
Replacing 75 buses with all-electric school buses will result in a lifetime savings of 670,000 pounds nitrogen oxide, abaout 41,000 pounds of particulate matter population, and 36 million pounds of greenhouse gas tailpipe emissions. This is equivalent to removing 3,500 cars from the road or saving 1.6 million gallons of diesel.
“Replacing aging buses is better for the health of school children and will save school divisions money,” says Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “Each electric school bus can save districts nearly $2,000 a year in fuel and $4,400 a year in reduced maintenance costs, saving tens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of a bus.”
School districts may be reimbursed up to $265,000 for the purchase of an all-electric school bus, including charging infrastructure. Electric school buses purchased under this program must have a minimum range of 100 miles.
The $20 million for the initiative comes from the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust, which stems from settlements of claims against Volkswagen for violations of the Clean Air Act.