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25 Electric School Buses Headed to Nation’s Capital

New vehicles for Washington, D.C.’s K-12 schools, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, are part of a larger initiative aimed at making the school district carbon-neutral and climate resilient by 2050.

A line of yellow electric school buses parked and plugged into charge.
(Lion Electric)
The Washington, D.C., school district will update its transportation fleet with 25 electric buses in the 2024-2025 academic year, officials recently announced.

According to a recent news release, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as part of its Clean School Bus Rebate Program, awarded D.C.’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education $7.6 million last year to begin replacing fuel-powered vehicles with zero- and low-emission models. The district finalized the order and delivery schedule this month.

“This is a vital first step to reducing our carbon footprint and improving air quality in and around our schools and communities,” Christina Grant, D.C. state education superintendent, said in a public statement. “The new electric buses will support our efforts to operate a cleaner and greener bus fleet in our community.”

Under a plan announced last year by Washington, D.C.’s Department of Energy and Environment, the school district is committed to eventually phase out all fuel-powered buses at the end of their useful life. Under a longer-term pledge, the district is trying to become carbon-neutral and climate resilient by 2050, according to the news release.

Following prior grant announcements, the EPA identified Washington, D.C., as a high-need district within a region that included Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

According to the EPA’s website, the 2023 grant application period for electric buses closed Aug. 22. Awards totaling $400 million will be announced between November and January, and the money will be provided to recipients by March. The federal agency anticipates that up to 50 cooperative agreements between multiple school districts and third parties will be funded.

The 2023 funding round will prioritize applications from low-income rural areas where at least 20 percent of students live in poverty, as well as Bureau of Indian Affairs-funded school districts, according to the EPA website. Award amounts are based on the size of the bus fleets, the seating capacity and other dimensions of the vehicles that are to be replaced. The maximum per-vehicle amount is $395,000, including the charging device.

The grant requirements stipulate that individual school districts must apply for between 15 and 50 bus replacements, while for districts that work with a third party (on behalf of four districts or more), the required range is between 25 and 100 bus replacements.

All told, nearly 2,000 school districts applied for CSB grant program funding last year, and the EPA awarded rebates to roughly 400 applicants for about 2,600 buses, amounting to almost $1 billion in funding since the program was created, according to the agency’s website.