Alaska will use approximately $4.4 million of its Volkswagen settlement funds to purchase 33 new school buses for eight school districts. File photo

Alaska will use approximately $4.4 million of its Volkswagen settlement funds to purchase 33 new school buses for eight school districts. File photo

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska has approved approximately $4.4 million in Volkswagen (VW) settlement funds for new school buses.

The Alaska Energy Authority (AEA), the agency overseeing the state’s distribution of VW funds, announced on Feb. 25 that a total of eight school districts will receive grants for 33 new alternative-fuel buses, according to a news release from the agency. The funding accounts for a little more than half of the state’s total $8.125 million share of VW Environmental Mitigation Trust, according to the AEA’s website.

“By replacing older engines with new technologies, the school buses will help improve air quality in these areas of the state,” said Curtis W. Thayer, executive director of the AEA. "The new buses will result in a reduction of 24.6 short tons of NOx [nitrogen oxide] and 1.8 short tons of fine particulate matter over the remaining lifetimes of the replaced school buses.”

The school bus projects that were selected were evaluated based on the amount of ambient NOx and diesel particulate matter in the areas that the buses operate in, as well as the presence of at-risk communities exposed to these pollutants, cost effectiveness at reducing NOx, and voluntary matching funds, according to the AEA.

First Student reportedly applied for VW funding on behalf of multiple school districts, including one bus for Juneau School District, one bus for Kodiak Island Borough School District, and four buses for Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District, according to Juneau Empire.

Other school districts that will receive funding are listed below:

  • Alaska Gateway School District will be awarded funding for one bus.
  • Anchorage School District will receive funding for 13 buses.
  • Kake City School District will be presented with funding for two buses.
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough School District will receive funding for seven buses.
  • Southeast Island School District will be awarded funding for four buses.

For more information about the state’s allocation of VW settlement funds, go here.

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