MEDIA, Pa. — Rose Tree Media School District is the recipient of a grant that will help in upgrading its bus fleet to natural gas.

The $499,994 three-year Natural Gas Vehicle Development Program grant was administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. The intent of the grant program is to spur the demand for natural gas as an alternative to petroleum fuel.

Officials said that as unconventional gas development continues across Pennsylvania, Act 13 enacts stronger environmental standards and builds upon the state’s ongoing efforts to move toward energy independence. There is reportedly an abundance of shale gas available in the state that will keep natural gas prices low for the foreseeable future.

Officials for Rose Tree Media School District said the grant funds will enable the district to live up to its motto of “Excellence Today for Tomorrow” by contributing to the environmental impact on the community.  

Upon final approval by the board of school directors, the district will begin upgrading its bus fleet to natural gas vehicles, converting 14 existing diesel buses to compressed natural gas (CNG). It will also begin the process of purchasing eight new CNG buses. The fuel capacity will be supported by a new hybrid fueling station owned and operated by the district.

With the conversion and purchase of CNG buses, the district is expected to save over $1 million over a 20-year period. In addition, the project would have an impact on the environment and community by reducing CO2 emissions.

The construction of the project is estimated at a cost of $4.8 million. It will begin this summer and should be completed by the fall of 2014.  

The project also includes upgrades to the transportation building.  

Johnson Controls will serve as the contractor for the construction of the fueling station and program manager of the overall CNG transition plan.