Arizona school on road to using electric school buses

Business News | 19 Apr |

On March 15, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an Arizona school as the winner of a $300,000 grant to replace their diesel school buses with no-emission electric school buses and charging stations, according to an EPA news release.

Theodore Roosevelt School is located on the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Fort Apache. It is one of 22 schools throughout the United States to receive an EPA grant. The grant is a part of the American Rescue Plan Act and it will provide $7 million total for electric buses nationwide.

The motivation for the grant is to provide schools in underserved communities with cleaner transportation.

No-emission electric buses will have a positive impact on student health and the environment, and having permanent charging stations ensures that people can purchase their own electric vehicles, said Marla Wilkerson, the principal of Theodore Roosevelt School.

“For a lot of people, gas prices are a big source of stress right now. Having electric school buses can definitely get rid of some of that anxiety,” said Christian Copperthite, a junior at Liberty High School in Peoria.


READ ALSO: How the PHX East Valley is transforming electric vehicles industry


As of March 23, the average price of gasoline in the United States is $4.237 per gallon, according to AAA. The current average price of gasoline in Arizona is $4.631, according to AAA.

There are several bills in the Arizona legislature to promote the usage of electric vehicles.

One of those bills is SB1246, sponsored by Arizona State Sen. Paul Boyer, R-Glendale. It was introduced in January to help Arizona school districts implement electric buses and charging infrastructure.

“Oftentimes, electric school buses are more cost effective, in terms of operating an electric school bus over a diesel school bus, just given the lower cost of fuel, operating and maintenance costs,” said Shelby Stults, a policy principal at Advanced Energy Economy.

Advanced Energy Economy is “a national association of businesses that are making the energy we use secure, clean, and affordable,” according to their website. They work with policymakers and businesses nationwide to expand the electrification of transportation and are working with Sen. Boyer on SB1246.

The purpose of the bill is to streamline the administrative process related to organizing and using electric buses and charging infrastructure.

“We see this as being beneficial because more school districts are interested in working with electric school bus companies, charging companies, and management services. It’s really a newer technology, so there might be less technical knowledge and capability for an individual school district to be able to fully vet those companies,” Stults said.

The bill is establishing an advisory board to create a pre-approved shortlist of companies to help schools with the selection process.

“It is important to note that this is by no means a mandate. It is an opt-in opportunity for schools that are interested in pursuing this technology,” Stults said.

SB1246 was passed by the Arizona State Senate on Feb. 23. It passed the House Education Committee on March 8, and the House Rules Committee on March 15. The next step is to schedule a date for a third reading in front of the Arizona House of Representatives. After that, it will be put to a final vote.

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