LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) signed a funding agreement on Thursday to award seven school districts a total of $4.2 million to purchase 17 electric school buses.
The new buses are part of the EGLE's Fuel Transformation Program financed in part by the state’s share of Volkswagen (VW) settlement funds, according to a news release from the agency. As School Bus Fleet previously reported, nearly $13 million of Michigan's $64.8 million share of VW funds is expected to go toward new electric and diesel school buses.
The funding for school districts in Ann Arbor, Gaylord, Kalamazoo, Oxford, Roseville, Three Rivers, and Zeeland will reportedly cover up to 70% of the costs of the electric buses as well as Level 2 and DC fast-charging stations, according to the EGLE.
“Since taking office, I’ve been deliberate in combating climate change, protecting public health here in Michigan, and advancing our state’s technology and the transportation landscape in a way that also improves lives,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “Programs like these that replace diesel-powered school buses with electric models allow for students to learn about advancing technology and see what a real impact they can have when it comes to climate change. These advancements put Michigan on track toward environmental sustainability and reinforce Michigan’s continued leadership when it comes to next generation transportation.”
The Michigan Association for Pupil Transportation, with the support of EGLE's Materials Management Division, developed the school bus replacement project, according to the agency. Zeeland Public Schools is the project manager.
The EGLE said that it will be teaming up with PlanetM — the statewide mobility initiative within the Michigan Economic Development Corp. — to deploy the fleet of electric buses manufactured by Lion Electric Co. and Thomas Built Buses/Proterra.
Additionally, PlanetM, and several electric power companies, including DTE Energy, Consumers Energy Co., Indiana Michigan Power Co., and the Michigan Municipal Electric Association, are working with the selected districts to install charging infrastructure.
As SBF previously reported in June, DTE Energy secured $1.5 million in state funding to purchase a total of six Thomas Built Saf-T-Liner eC2 Jouley electric school buses, powered by Proterra, for Ann Arbor Public Schools and Roseville Community Schools, in addition to charging infrastructure and a vehicle-to-grid study.
On Thursday, Proterra announced that the two districts, in partnership with DTE Energy and Hoekstra Transportation, will participate in a five-year pilot program for the Jouley and the Proterra 60kW charging system, according to a news release from the supplier. The pilot program is also supported by VW settlement funding.
The Saf-T-Liner eC2 Jouley is the first electric school bus from Thomas Built Buses. Recently, the Jouley received certification of eligibility for funding from the California Energy Commission (CEC) and also received full California Air Resources Board (CARB) and Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP) certifications.