Florida is moving one step closer to clean, electric school buses for all!
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection recently released award letters to seven Florida school districts, allocating a total of $57 million to purchase new fully electric bus fleets under their “Electric School Bus Project.”
Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties have been approved for 50 new buses; Broward will get 60. Pinellas and Manatee counties will get 20 new buses; Sarasota county will get 12 and Orange county will get 6. Hillsborough and Seminole counties also applied for the program but did not receive funds in this year’s round. Recipients were selected mainly on the strength of their matching contributions.
Over the past three years, Florida Conservation Voters Education Fund has advocated for VW funds to be used for clean electric school buses. Our Chispa Florida program also organized partners to encourage school districts to apply for these funds. We have seen great success in relationship building and results for Florida’s kids.
Thank you to those who have emailed FDEP and their school districts throughout this multi-year process. With your advocacy, you helped educated local school leaders about the health impacts of dirty diesel, available funds and resources, and how to apply for DEP’s program. Thank you!
Clean electric buses offer massive benefits over diesel buses. Diesel-engine bus fumes contain high levels of particulate matter, aerosolized toxins, nitrogen oxides, and greenhouse gases. These fumes can inflame common conditions such as asthma. Electric buses completely eliminate this pollution health risk. Electric buses also require much less maintenance, providing needed relief to tight school district budgets.
The rollout of these electric buses can also provide amazing new opportunities to promote clean energy use and disaster resilience. Each electric school bus is not just a bus, it’s a 150 kilowatt electric battery on wheels. By integrating these buses into the grid and developing plans to use them for emergency energy provision in case of disaster, municipalities can truly maximize the benefits of this new infrastructure.
None of the grant agreements are signed yet, but the program’s dIrector, Hastings Read, hopes that the first buses will be ordered shortly and delivered by early next year.
This program is funded through the Diesel Emissions Mitigation Program. The FDEP program manages Florida’s $166.4 million dollar share of the $14.7 billion settlement that the federal government imposed on Volkswagen after the company was caught cheating on emissions tests in 600,000 of their diesel vehicles sold nationwide. These funds are used to promote the adoption of zero-emissions vehicles and the development of charging infrastructure.