ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota is the first state in the Midwest to implement a new electric school bus pilot program.
The project will support cleaner vehicle technology and reduce harmful air pollution in an effort to help achieve Minnesota’s 80% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
By removing the older and more polluting diesel buses off the roads, the pilot project will also help determine the viability of electric bus technology in Minnesota’s cold climates.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said more than $2.1 million in grants helped fund the innovation, allowing eight new electric school buses to service five school districts in the state between Faribault, St. Paul, Morris, Osseo and Fergus Falls.
"One LionC bus is the equivalent of removing five cars," said Chelaine Crego, terminal manager for Northstar Bus Lines. "That's 23 tons of GHG. We're going to have three."
Some newly funded buses have already begun transporting students with the rest expected to be in service by next fall. The grantees also received funding for charging stations.
According to state officials, changing from diesel to all-electric buses can reduce GHG emissions by at least 29 tons per vehicle. In total, awarded grant projects are anticipated to reduce pollution from GHG emissions by 1,120 tons.
Quarterly data on bus operation and performance, maintenance and energy use will be reported to help the state decide on future electric school bus projects.
The project was funded from a national Volkswagen settlement after the German carmaker was caught cheating on emissions standards and violating the federal Clean Air Act. As part of the agreement reached with the federal government, VW paid $2.9 billion into a fund.
Minnesota will receive a total of $47 million over the course of 10 years.