By Media Office Staff
The California Energy Commission (CEC) has awarded more than $3 million in funds to replace 11 polluting diesel school buses with all-electric buses that will reduce school children’s exposure to harmful emissions and help the state reach its climate and air quality goals.
Grant agreements and amendments for eight school districts – Anaheim, Chawanakee, Durham, Fall River, Garden Grove, Inglewood, Sequoia, and Ukiah – were approved at the Oct. 14 business meeting.
The CEC’s School Bus Replacement Program is providing more than $94 million to public school districts, county offices of education, and joint power authorities to help transition from diesel school buses to zero- or low-emissions vehicles. With the latest round of approved funds, the CEC has awarded nearly $75 million for 233 all-electric buses in 27 California counties.
“School buses are the safest vehicles on the road, but diesel-powered buses release pollution that is harmful to kids’ developing lungs,” said CEC Commissioner Patty Monahan. “Electric school buses have no tailpipe pollution, so children and their communities can breathe easier.”
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 due to 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. Scientists have found that these fine particles can cause asthma in healthy children.
Most of the CEC’s awards support buses in disadvantaged, low-income communities, which are disproportionately affected by air pollution and health problems from poor air quality. More than 80 percent of the buses awarded Oct. 14 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 CEC estimates that schools will save nearly $120,000 in fuel and maintenance costs per bus over 20 years.
The CEC is using funds from the California Clean Energy Jobs Act, also known as Proposition 39, to provide schools with electric buses. Proposition 39 is a voter-approved initiative that adjusted the corporate income tax code and allocated revenues to school districts for energy improvements.
The CEC’s Clean Transportation Program, also known as the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, will provide the charging infrastructure to support the buses purchased through the School Bus Replacement Program. The Clean Transportation Program will also fund workforce training and development opportunities for drivers and maintenance technicians.