SALT LAKE CITY — A bill has been introduced in the state Legislature that would provide $20 million for school bus replacements and to create infrastructure for alternative-fuel vehicles — specifically, those powered by compressed natural gas (CNG), propane autogas or clean diesel fuel.
House Bill (HB) 41 would allow the state Board of Education to award a grant to a school district or charter school to replace a school bus manufactured before 2002 with a bus that uses CNG, propane or clean diesel fuel. The grant could also be used to install an alternative-fuel fueling station for school buses and to retrofit an operation’s maintenance facility to service and maintain alternative-fuel school buses.
The state Board of Education would be required to create rules related to awarding a grant, including specifying criteria for the grant recipient and requiring that a grant recipient provide funding matches in an amount that is greater than or equal to the amount of the grant received.
The Board of Education would also be required to facilitate training for school bus technicians and bus drivers on the operation and maintenance of buses that run on CNG and propane.
The board would need to submit a report to the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee by Nov. 1 that describes the grants awarded under this program and includes recommendations regarding the continuation of the program.
If approved, the bill — with the exception of the portion related to appropriated funding — would take effect on May 13. The appropriations would take effect on July 1, which is the beginning of the fiscal year.
In early January, HB 41 was sent to agencies for fiscal input.
This is not the first push for more alternative-fuel school buses in Utah. Last year, Gov. Gary Herbert signed into law Senate Bill 275, which is designed to increase the number of vehicles in the state running on alternative fuels — specifically CNG.