When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced and opened applications for a new school bus procurement funding program last fall, school districts from every corner of the country rushed to apply. Unfortunately, over 70 Pennsylvania districts from across the Commonwealth were waitlisted or deprioritized for funding from the nationwide Clean School Bus Program. There simply wasn’t enough funding set aside to meet the enthusiasm of school administrators for electric school buses in Pennsylvania.
This led Pennsylvania Representative Brandon Markosek (D-Allegheny) to introduce HB 1542, which if passed would establish an Electric School Bus Grant Program within Pennsylvania’s Department of Education. This legislation has the potential to break down barriers for dozens of school districts across the Commonwealth that have expressed interest in switching to school buses that run on electricity.
In support of HB 1542, last month, Advanced Energy United and member company Highland Electric Fleets were invited to testify before the Pennsylvania House Education Committee. In our testimony, we highlighted the critical support that Rep. Markosek’s legislation would provide to the dozens of school districts in the Commonwealth that are interested in pursuing electrification, including:
- Create a new grant program within the Pennsylvania Department of Education to provide interested school districts with funds for bus procurement, charging infrastructure and installation, depot and facility upgrades, and other aspects of electrification.
- Provide ongoing technical assistance to schools to help them seize on federal funding opportunities and understand fleet transition considerations, based on their specific situation.
- Extend bus lease term timelines to 15 years to allow school districts to realize the full range of benefits and provide greater flexibility to schools in bus electrification.
Through our testimony, we also touted the many benefits of bus electrification. Electric school buses have the potential to provide substantial cost savings for Pennsylvania schools, as they have lower fuel and maintenance costs compared to diesel buses. As we highlighted during the hearing, research has shown that school districts could save an average of $6,000 per year on operational costs following the purchase of a new electric school bus.
In addition to providing cost savings for school districts, local economies stand to benefit greatly from the adoption of programs that encourage electric school bus adoption, like the one proposed in HB 1542. Previous research from United has shown that because of the passage of the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program, electric school buses have the potential to add $6 billion to our national gross domestic product (GDP), generate an additional $1.25 billion in tax revenue for state and local governments, and create 46,000 jobs.
Rep. Markosek’s legislation and the program it would create present a unique opportunity for Pennsylvania to be a national leader in electric school bus adoption. Supported by dozens of schools that have expressed interest in bus electrification, Pennsylvania should rise to the occasion to help school districts save money, protect the health of school children, and strengthen local economies across the Commonwealth.
United is looking forward to working further with the committee and educating decision-makers on the importance of encouraging school bus adoption and giving school districts greater flexibility.
Watch the hearing: