Vice President Kamala Harris will announce rebate awards for school districts across the country that will support the purchase of nearly 2,500 school buses – most of which will be electric, the White House said. The funding is part of the bipartisan infrastructure law President Joe Biden signed last year.
Speaking in Seattle on Wednesday, Harris “will announce nearly $1 billion in total awards from the EPA’s Clean School Bus program to deliver 2,468 electric and low-emission buses to school districts across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and a number of tribal run or tribal serving schools,” White House senior adviser and infrastructure coordinator Mitch Landrieu told reporters in a briefing on Tuesday afternoon. “The vast majority of those buses, 95% will be purely electric.”
In 12 states, Landrieu said, the electric buses will be the first ever on the ground.
“That means that Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire (are) all hitting an incredible milestone with this funding,” he said.
While nearly all of the buses will be fully electric, a “very small number” will be powered by compressed natural gas or propane, Karl Simon, director of the Transportation and Climate Division at the Environmental Protection Agency, told reporters.
Simon said the administration will award funds for charging stations but is letting local communities decide how those funds are best spent.
“For each electric bus, the agency is awarding the opportunity of them spending up to $20,000 on electric vehicle infrastructure. So, we really want it to be a local conversation between the school district, the bus provider and their local utility,” Simon said.
Awardees will now work with school bus dealers and manufacturers to put orders in for the new vehicles and will submit the orders to the EPA, which “will get money out very quickly,” Simon said. That process will be completed by April and then the buses will be delivered by the manufacturers “as soon as they can be.”
The announcement comes as the infrastructure law near its one-year anniversary.
“We’ve put the unprecedented funding in this bill to work,” Landrieu said. “We’re pushing millions of dollars out of the door and we’re turning dirt on projects all across the country.”