California Energy Commission approves nearly $70M for all-electric school buses

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With a mission to replace old diesel school buses, the California Energy Commission this week awarded $70 million to swap in new, all-electric school buses for use throughout the state.

In all, more than 200 buses stand to be replaced. Doing so, officials say, will reduce children’s exposure to harmful emissions and push California closer to its established climate and air quality goals. Estimates show the electric buses could eliminate nearly 57,000 pounds of nitrogen oxides and 550 pounds of fine particulate matter produced annually. These emissions can enter the lungs and bloodstream, causing adverse health effects — effects to which children are more vulnerable.

“School buses are by far the safest way for kids to get to school. 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,” Energy Commissioner Patty Monahan said. “The Energy Commission is proud to support this transition to protect the health of children throughout the state, something that will help all Californians breathe easier.”

Beyond the health benefits, the Energy Commission estimates the buses will, long term, provide major economic savings as well. Reductions in fuel and repair costs could save them almost $120,000 in fuel and maintenance costs, per bus, for the next 20 years. A vast majority — 90 percent — of the awards to make this possible will go to buses in low-income communities. Funds will be drawn from the increased corporate income tax authorized under the California Clean Energy Jobs Act.