The Beneficial Electrification League (BEL) has announced foundational sponsorship support from CoBank to support the league’s ongoing electric school bus initiative. The grant will support BEL’s outreach to utilities and school districts encouraging participation in a federally funded electric school bus rebate program for the year ahead.
The league has built a network of more than 350 utilities to increase awareness of the program – and the benefits of electric buses – in rural and disadvantaged communities.
“BEL was able to move the needle during the first year of the program, unlocking millions of dollars in rebates benefiting local school districts across the country,” said BEL CEO Keith Dennis. “The sponsorship grant from CoBank will help BEL leverage and grow the network to help ensure that school districts that receive school buses can have a good experience with their upgrade. We are grateful to CoBank for their support.”
In the 2021 Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs Act (IIJA), Congress funded an array of programs that aim to accelerate electrification of the economy, including a $5 billion grant program enabling school districts to purchase new clean buses, with a focus on electric buses.
“By having access to electric school bus fleets, rural school systems can help create more sustainable communities and lower operating costs," said Tamra Reynolds, managing director for CoBank. "CoBank’s donation is intended to amplify the work that BEL and electric coops are doing together to educate rural school systems on how to access the resources created by the IIJA."
“All too often rural communities lack the resources – time, money, and people power – to take advantage of federal programs designed to help them. Support from organizations such as CoBank and BEL can empower cooperatives to help close the gap between larger, well-funded jurisdictions and rural school districts,” said Chris Studer, chief member and public relations officer at East River Electric Cooperative.
“The webinars, resources and personal communication BEL provided us at the outset of this brand-new federal program were invaluable in promoting this opportunity to remote rural school districts that otherwise would not have known this program existed,” said Chris Michalowski, power use advisor at Mountain Parks Electric in Colorado.