By Media Office Staff
This summer, the California Energy Commission (CEC) awarded nearly $72 million to rollout more than 220 electric school buses throughout the state and provided additional dollars for workforce training and charging infrastructure to support the buses.
Through the School Bus Replacement Program, the CEC is replacing old, polluting diesel school buses with all-electric buses to reduce schoolchildren’s exposure to harmful emissions, and help the state reach its climate and air quality goals.
Replacing the buses will eliminate diesel emissions, including fine particulate matter that is particularly harmful to children’s developing lungs.
The buses will also reduce noise pollution both on and off the bus. In fact, the buses are so quiet that they play music when driving at slow speeds to alert passersby.
In addition to funding the purchase of electric buses, the CEC awarded more than $13 million for charging infrastructure for schools that were awarded electric vehicles—as well as more than $1 million to prepare drivers and technicians to work with the vehicles.
“The Energy Commission is proud to support the transition to electric school buses to protect the health of children throughout the state, something that will help all Californians breathe easier,” said Energy Commissioner Patty Monahan. “And we can’t get these buses on the road without the charging infrastructure to refuel them, and training for drivers and maintenance workers to support them.”
The CEC estimates that schools will save an average of $6,000 a year per electric bus in fuel and maintenance costs. However, electric buses still require maintenance—requiring technicians trained to work with these new and evolving technologies. Drivers, too, will need specialized training to work with zero-emission vehicles.
Funds from the CEC’s Clean Transportation Program will be used for training-related equipment, development of programmatic curriculum, and workforce training at nine community colleges around California.
Training would be available to current employees in awarded school districts, county offices of education, and joint power authorities, as well as new workers pursuing careers in clean transportation. The course is expected to train about 20 to 30 community college faculty, who will in turn train technicians and drivers.