June 6, 2022 Home
In rural America the school bus has been a key part of community life for generations, bringing kids from home to school in the morning and from school back home in the afternoon. It has been a part of daily lives for so many families for many years, especially in rural areas. The yellow school bus is still doing its work.
Today, the bus itself has begun to undergo changes. Many school systems in the United States are now investing in electric buses, buses that do not use diesel. Rural electric cooperatives in half a dozen states are promoting the use of these electric buses.
People are becoming more and more familiar with electric cars. Technology is moving quickly to produce a wide range of vehicles with a longer driving range. Electricity/batter-powered pickup trucks will be available by the end of this year. Businesses across the country are providing vehicle chargers that EV drivers can use while shopping, meeting, or eating.
The same changes are taking place with school buses. If you think about it, the school bus is ideal for the daily trips it makes to school and back with students. Currently the basic model of an electric bus has a range of 110 miles. The bus can be completely re-charged overnight.
There are health benefits: no inhaling diesel fumes for students, drivers, or teachers standing by; quiet operation, which means the driver can hear better and be more aware of what is going on in the bus; and cleaner air, with no emissions.
A school bus in use the past few years in Maple Grove, Minnesota has saved $12,000 a year in maintenance and fuel costs, according to David Renallo of Great River Energy in Minnesota. These figures do not count the fact that diesel now costs more than $5 a gallon. Washington County here in Tennessee has an electric school bus, which receives strong positive reviews from drivers, students, teachers, and parents. There is, of course, no need for oil changes, water and radiator work, and no need to replace internal combustion engine parts.
The electric school bus is more costly up front than the diesel bus, though the cost will most likely decrease as technology moves forward and production increases. However, this year and the next four years the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by Congress provides grant funding for $375,000 per bus plus $20,000 per bus for infrastructure (charging stations and electric panel) to eligible school systems.
As a rural county with a low median income level, Hancock County has a double priority level. If the school system applies for and receives the grant (through the Environmental Protection Agency), any buses built before 2010 qualify for replacement. This is a real opportunity. If a grant is awarded to Hancock County, not only will it provide health and operational benefits, it could free up school funds to be used for other educational needs.
Everyone needs to learn more about our electric cooperative. For more information, go to pve.coop.