U.S. EPA, Bay Area Air District, PGandE, Advanced Energy fund state’s first plug-in hybrid school bus
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today joined Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., and Advanced Energy officials to award a $215,843 grant to the Napa Valley Unified School District to fund California’s first plug-in hybrid school bus, which has the potential to double fuel efficiency and reduce emissions by up to 90 percent.
The school district will become one of only seven school districts in the country – and the first in California – to operate the new plug-in hybrid bus.
The EPA provided $30,000 for the bus through its Clean School Bus USA and the West Coast Collaborative, a public-private partnership aimed at reducing diesel emissions. The Bay Area AQMD provided $100,000 and PG&E contributed $30,000 toward the purchase of the bus. Advanced Energy, a North Carolina-based nonprofit that helps school districts across the country get new plug-in hybrid technology, helped the district secure over $55,000 in additional funding.
“The Napa Valley Unified School District is taking an important step in protecting the health of students, bus drivers, and residents with its new plug-in hybrid school bus,” said Amy Zimpfer, Air Division associate director for the U.S. EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “The EPA is proud to provide funding for this important new technology that reduces fuel consumption, diesel emissions and greenhouse gases.”
“Air pollution from old diesel school buses is a serious health concern that affects all Bay Area school children,” said Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. “Napa’s plug-in hybrid school bus not only cleans up the air by reducing diesel emissions, it also offers a daily lesson in environmental stewardship for our youth.”
“This is exciting not only for Napa Valley Unified School District, but the whole school bus industry,” said Ralph Knight, director of Transportation for the school district. “This program has received strong support from the school board and administration, as well as local support from the private citizens, service clubs, chamber of commerce, and corporate sponsorships.”
Napa Valley Unified School District representatives joined bus manufacturer IC Corporation and Advanced Energy to showcase the new school bus to federal, state, and local officials.
While the exterior of the hybrid school bus looks similar to a standard school bus, it is powered with innovative new “plug-in” technology. With an overnight charge, the system uses a larger battery that provides stored energy that is drawn down over the driving cycle, thus optimizing fuel economy. The bus uses a diesel engine to operate, and the electric battery activates when needed to reduce the amount of diesel fuel used to power the engine. Depending on the route, fuel economy is expected to improve by 70-100 percent and emissions are expected to be reduced by up to 90 percent.
“The adoption of plug-in-hybrid vehicles represents a tremendous opportunity to meet our state’s landmark greenhouse gas emission goals, and to protect our natural heritage,” said Brad Whitcomb, vice president of customer products and services for PG&E, which has helped more than three hundred customers adopt alternative transportation methods. “We are committed to helping the Napa Valley, along with our entire service area, bring more alternative fuel and clean energy into our communities.”
Nationwide, 24 million children ride the bus to school and spend between 20 minutes and several hours daily on buses, many of which are powered by older diesel engines that can expose children to high levels of air pollution. To address the issue, the EPA launched Clean School Bus USA to help take school buses out of the air pollution equation. Clean School Bus USA brings together partners from business, education, transportation, and public health organizations to work toward these goals.
Today, over 2 million children are riding cleaner school buses as a result of the program, which has provided $32 million in grants to retrofit or replace over 30,000 diesel buses in hundreds of school districts – resulting in an estimated reduction of 300 tons of soot (particulate matter) and almost 4,000 tons of total air pollution.
The EPA is currently soliciting proposals for additional clean school bus grant funding. Over $1.3 million is available for Clean School Bus USA projects in the West. Applications must be received by September 24. Details are available at http://www.epa.gov/region10/cleanschoolbus.html.
The West Coast Collaborative is a partnership of leaders from federal, state, and local government, the private sector, and environmental groups throughout North America committed to reducing diesel emissions. The collaborative seeks to leverage federal funds to reduce emissions from the most polluting diesel sources in the most affected communities to significantly improve air quality and public health. For more information, please visit http://www.westcoastcollaborative.org.
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