Washington schools to receive $24M for propane buses

June 10, 2024 By     0 Comments

As part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2023 Clean School Bus Program rebate competition, 16 school districts in Washington will receive more than $24 million for propane buses to replace 111 older school buses.

The EPA announced the availability of at least $500 million for its 2023 Clean School Bus rebates in September 2023. When the rebate application period closed in February, the EPA doubled the initial amount available to nearly $1 billion to accommodate overwhelming demand from school districts.

“EPA’s Clean School Bus Program is a breath of fresh air for our students, schools and communities,” says Casey Sixkiller, EPA Region 10 administrator. “Diesel pollution is linked to asthma and other conditions that harm students’ health, with impacts felt disproportionately in communities of color and tribal communities. Clean School Bus grants provide much-needed resources for school districts to upgrade aging fleets, replacing diesel buses with new zero-emission and clean school buses. Pulling older diesel buses off the road will ensure cleaner air for students, bus drivers and school staff.”

In the third round of funding, more than $6.7 million has been allocated for the purchase of propane buses. Fifty-eight districts have been tentatively selected to receive a total of 269 propane buses.

For every propane autogas bus purchased as part of the Clean School Bus Program, the EPA will provide transportation directors with up to $30,000. The program prioritizes high-need local educational agencies, and rural and tribal school districts.

Propane buses reduce nitrogen-oxide emissions by 96 percent compared to diesel, have a range of 400 miles and can continue to operate even if the electric grid is down, according to the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC).

Through three rounds of funding, the EPA has allocated more than $2.8 billion for 8,427 electric school buses and 440 propane buses. For the same amount of money that was distributed for the electric buses (about $2.77 billion), the program could have helped fund as many as 92,635 propane buses, assuming each propane bus received the $30,000 incentive, according to PERC.

“School districts see the value propane autogas buses can bring to their students, to their community and to the environment,” says David Walters, director of autogas business development for PERC. “With the lowest total cost of ownership, reduced emissions and improved uptime, it’s clear that propane autogas buses are an excellent choice. We applaud the districts that have made the decision to prioritize student health and the environment with their new propane autogas buses, and we hope others will follow their lead.”

The EPA plans to make more funds available for clean school buses this year. A small subset of tentatively selected applicants are still engaged in the review process. If the applicants meet all program requirements, the EPA will notify them of an award.

Through additional rounds of funding, the EPA will continue to make selections for the Clean School Bus Program and for other funding programs, such as the 2024 Clean Heavy-Duty Vehicles Grant Program. The EPA offers nearly $1 billion in available grant funding for the Clean Heavy-Duty Vehicles Grant Program and anticipates 70 percent of the money will fund new, zero-emission Class 6 or 7 school buses. School districts not selected for the 2023 rebates are encouraged to participate in currently open EPA funding programs and future funding rounds.

Featured homepage image courtesy of PERC

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