GreenPower Motor Company cut the ribbon at its new South Charleston, W. Va., manufacturing facility, which is home to the company's all-electric school bus manufacturing operations east of the Mississippi River. The facility adds 80,000 square feet of manufacturing footprint for the company. It's expected to start operations in September, with the capacity to build up to 150 electric school buses per quarter by next year, according to a news release.
"Today marks a significant milestone for GreenPower as we continue to live the vision of advancing the adoption of purpose-bult, zero-emission school buses. Through this new facility we will be able to exponentially increase our production to meet the increased demand for all-electric school buses," said Brendan Riley, president and director at GreenPower, citing recent public funding from both the state and federal levels and state climate change regulations as sources of the increased demand. "The work we're doing in South Charleston is a testament to GreenPower's mission and allows us to be well-positioned as the leader nationwide in the transition to clean, electric and safer transportation."
"Today marks a milestone for Greenpower, but it also marks a major milestone for West Virginia as well," said Gov. Jim Justice. "Since I took office, we've focused on transforming West Virginia's image. Part of the way we're doing that is by embracing all the new technologies that are at our fingertips, and GreenPower opening their manufacturing facility in West Virginia is yet another exciting project that will help us move our state forward and change our image. As we continue to diversify our economy, manufacturing zero-emission school buses in West Virginia will open up a world of opportunities for our state. Not only will it bring hundreds of great paying jobs to the Kanawha Valley, but the ripple effects on our state's economy will be massive. I can't thank them enough for their commitment to our state and for believing that West Virginia is the best place to do business."
Bringing Skilled Jobs to West Virginia
As West Virginia's economy continues to transform, it is important to provide skilled and high-skilled jobs to help workers make the transition as seamless as possible. GreenPower's facility, located at 30 Industrial Way in South Charleston, W. Va., is expected to bring approximately 200 new clean-energy jobs to the state within the next year, and up to 900 when the company reaches full production. The company is focused on creating excellent employment and career opportunities for West Virginians and is partnering with BridgeValley Community and Technical College to provide hands-on training to workers joining GreenPower's manufacturing team.
"I applaud GreenPower for bringing hundreds of great paying jobs to the state while providing safe, clean transportation solutions to the children in the Kanawha Valley and beyond," said South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens. "GreenPower is leading the charge on this important step to electrifying the nation's school bus fleet from right here in South Charleston, West Virginia. As our state's economy diversifies, GreenPower is an important part of this transformation. I look forward to cheering GreenPower on throughout their journey here in South Charleston."
Electric School Bus Funding Incentives
The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean School Bus Program as passed in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides five billion dollars over five years (FY 2022-2026) to replace existing school buses with clean and zero-emission models to help bring healthier transportation solutions to students around the country. As part of EPA's current program offering, GreenPower's all-electric school buses are eligible for rebates for the Type D BEAST of up $375,000 and up to $285,000 for the Type A Nano BEAST all-electric school bus. GreenPower's technologies could help school districts drive down fuel costs and minimize maintenance costs while delivering outstanding reliability and efficiency, the release stated.
"Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we have an opportunity to transform our nation's school bus fleet, reduce harmful pollution and deliver cleaner, healthier air for our children, all while boosting the economy in communities like South Charleston, West Virginia," said Dan Utech, EPA Chief of Staff. "Today's ribbon-cutting is a major step forward in this effort, as we work together with the private sector to accelerate the transition to clean, zero-emissions school buses, advance technology that will tackle climate change, and deliver environmental and economic benefits for all."
The Start of a Green, Healthy New School Day
Children are more susceptible to air pollution than healthy adults because their respiratory systems are still developing, and they have faster breathing rates. Exposure to NOx exhaust can trigger health problems like asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory issues. The primary source of NOx is motor vehicles — including school buses. Diesel exhaust is designated "carcinogenic to humans" by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The exhaust contains significant levels of particulate matter. These particles can lodge deep into the lungs and heart and are linked to premature death, aggravated asthma and decreased lung function. Compounding these concerns is the results of recent studies showing that air pollutant levels inside school buses can be greater than the ambient levels outside the bus.
"Moms across West Virginia are excited to support zero-tailpipe-pollution electric school buses right here in the Mountain State," said Lucia Valentine, West Virginia field consultant for Moms Clean Air Force. "The transportation sector is one of the leading sources of climate pollution and West Virginia is one of the most at-risk states for climate related flood disasters. Investing in clean energy growth and the electric vehicle market will improve public health, protect our environment, and create economic opportunity for all West Virginians. Children and environmental justice communities stand to benefit the most from electric school buses, which help clean up the air we all breathe by eliminating harmful tailpipe pollution. West Virginians deserve to breathe clean air."
Fueling Economic Growth in West Virginia
The GreenPower manufacturing facility is expected to have a significant impact on the local and state economy. The positive economic contributions to the state are expected to extend well beyond the local jobs and sales generated at the facility.
"We are honored to welcome GreenPower Motor Company to the growing list of new corporate citizens in West Virginia," said the state's Department of Economic Development Secretary Mitch Carmichael. "The capital investment and confidence in West Virginia displayed by this innovative company is evidence of the widespread appeal that our state projects to the nation and the world. We look forward to participating in the future success of GreenPower Motor Company and excited for the many great careers that will be spawned at this new manufacturing facility."