PROSPERITY, WV (WVNS) – A school district nearby could soon be making the switch to electric school buses.
Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency and GreenPower Motor Company gathered in Raleigh County to announce the new electric school bus initiative.
When school starts this fall, Mercer County Schools will receive a test bus for the bus’s first, six-week round of testing. Raleigh County Schools will follow soon after, as they are slated to test an electric bus around Christmas time.
“They pollute less. They’re more reliable. And they help keep our air clean,” said Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Adam Ortiz. “We’re focusing here on West Virginia because we know the school districts have a lot of concerns with their fleets aging, and this is an opportunity to give them a boost.”
The EPA is encouraging school districts to apply for the electric school bus program, and 35 of the 50 school districts in the state already meet the requirements to be named a priority district.
Mark Nestlen of GreenPower, the company that will be manufacturing the buses in South Charleston starting August 1st, said if their applications are selected, the school districts won’t have to spend any extra money.
“If you apply, and you are awarded the grant, you will get $375,000 to buy a Type-D school bus. This bus costs $375,000. So in other words, you’re going to get that bus for free from the federal government,” Nestlen told 59News.
Districts that are selected can opt for up to 25 electric buses, and will also receive additional funds to build charging infrastructure.
Ortiz also said in addition to saving school districts thousands of dollars on gas, the buses can even provide a health benefit to students with respiratory issues like asthma.
“When buses are queued up, in a schoolyard, that’s 30 or 40 buses. So even in a rural area that can be a concentration of pollution that can aggravate kids that have asthma or other conditions,” said Ortiz. “So the clean school buses are a way that kids can have a healthy environment.”
The deadline for school districts to apply for the program is Friday, August 19th.