Recently released details on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus Program provide an opportunity for school transportation directors to drastically reduce emissions in their fleet with low- and zero-emission school buses. For every propane autogas bus purchased through the program, the EPA will provide transportation directors with up to $30,000 in rebates.
The program, which will award $5 billion over the next five years to replace existing buses with clean options, will prioritize high-need, low-income, rural, and tribal school districts. As an affordable, available energy source that provides fleets with a range of up to 400 miles on a single refuel, propane autogas may prove ideal for each of these prioritized categories.
“The goal of this program is to ensure energy equity by removing as many aging, dirty diesel buses from the road as quickly as possible in areas that have been historically underserved,” said Stephen Whaley, director of autogas business development with the Propane Education & Research Council. “The fastest and most cost-effective way to achieve that goal is with propane autogas. Propane offers the lowest total cost-of-ownership, providing savings a school district will see year-over-year. That’s how we revolutionize clean student transportation.”
In addition to low vehicle and fuel costs, propane autogas infrastructure is also inexpensive. The cost to purchase and install refueling equipment for a fleet of medium- or heavy-duty propane autogas vehicles is a small fraction of the cost to purchase and install fast charger equipment for charging a comparable electric vehicle fleet in a comparable time frame. In many cases, propane autogas suppliers will lease the infrastructure to transportation directors at a low cost in exchange for a mutually beneficial fuel contract.
By combining these low costs with propane’s clean benefits, school districts can more quickly reduce emissions in their fleet. Propane autogas buses reduce harmful nitrogen-oxide (NOx) emissions by 96% and have virtually zero particulate matter emissions. Additionally, propane autogas also offers a lower cost-per-pound to reduce greenhouse gases than comparable EV school buses.
In the first round of funding, the EPA expects to award $500 million in rebates. School transportation directors interested in taking advantage of the funding should create an account on sam.gov as soon as possible to ensure they will be able to apply for the rebates.