Lewis County (Mo.) C-1 School District received a portion of the state’s Volkswagen settlement funds and rebates to purchase four 2022 IC Bus propane school buses. Pictured here is one of the district's drivers, Elmer Hagood, fueling one of the propane buses. - Photo courtesy Lewis County C-1 School District and the Missouri Propane Education and Research Council

Lewis County (Mo.) C-1 School District received a portion of the state’s Volkswagen settlement funds and rebates to purchase four 2022 IC Bus propane school buses. Pictured here is one of the district's drivers, Elmer Hagood, fueling one of the propane buses.

Photo courtesy Lewis County C-1 School District and the Missouri Propane Education and Research Council

Lewis County C-1 School District in northeast Missouri has added four propane school buses to its fleet.

The district purchased the four 2022 IC Bus propane buses in fall 2020 and operates the buses on its regular routes, which span 410 square miles and five counties, according to a news release from the Missouri Propane Education and Research Council (MOPERC).

“Anything we can do to provide a cleaner environment and less pollution being breathed in by our students is something I believe strongly in striving to accomplish,” said John French, superintendent of Lewis County C-1 School District, in the news release. “We believe the savings gained from our alternative fueled propane school buses will eventually lead to more money going into the classroom, which will, in turn, reduce the local tax burden.”

According to MOPERC, the district received a portion of the state’s Volkswagen (VW) settlement funding, totaling $20,000 per bus for two of the propane buses, and $37,500 per bus for the other two. The district also received a $2,000 rebate per bus from MOPERC, which has pledged $1 million to help school districts transition from diesel buses to propane models, according to the council.

“With propane school buses, Lewis County has taken an important step to safeguard the health of its students, staff, and community,” said Steve Ahrens, president of MOPERC. “It’s important to note that the district will achieve reduced emissions while also significantly lowering its fuel and maintenance costs. We’ve seen this when districts adopt propane fleets that replace diesel buses — transportation funding is freed up for education funding. That helps taxpayers breathe a little easier, too.”

Lewis County C-1 School District currently runs a total of 18 diesel buses, paying about $2.25 per gallon, compared with propane at $1.55 per gallon, MOPERC reports. The federal alternative fuel excise tax credit of 36 cents per gallon reportedly brings the district’s propane cost to $1.19.

In addition to reduced fuel costs, propane has helped minimize Lewis County’s cold-weather starts.

“Being in the northeast part of Missouri, we get pretty darn cold temperatures,” French added in the news release. “When we get below zero, diesel sometimes gels up, and we don’t have that problem with propane.”

Right now, the district is fueling its propane buses at a local provider site, but is considering the addition of on-site propane infrastructure, which includes a tank and a dispenser, according to MOPERC.

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