Funding for Electric School Buses Benefits Georgia Schools and Industry

Electric school buses - many of which are manufactured right here in Georgia by Blue Bird Corporation - have an important role to play in accelerating the state’s progress toward a net zero emissions future.

After all, electrifying transportation is a critical climate solution for Georgia, and transitioning to electric cars is just one piece of the puzzle. 

New Developments Around Electric School Buses in Georgia

Electric School Buses charging

Using funding from a Drawdown Georgia Climate Solutions & Equity grant, Mothers & Others for Clean Air (MOCA) is partnering with Georgia Clinicians for Climate Action and the Georgia State Medical Association to provide educational programming at the city and county level on the health and equity co-benefits of electric school buses. The grant will also help these groups connect school districts to opportunities to apply for new federal funding to implement these upgrades in their communities.

Read more about the new federal funding offered for alternative fuel school buses and its potential impacts on public health and the economy in our state in this recent story from our friends at GPB News, reprinted here with permission.

New Federal Funding for Alternative Fuel School Buses

The Environmental Protection Agency has released the second round of federal funds, a total of $1 billion, from the Clean School Bus Program to help U.S. school districts transition to alternative fuel buses. Georgia continues to benefit from the program in more ways than one. 

The announcement of the new funds took the form of a press-event-as-road trip for EPA Administrator Michael Regan who cut a track that began at Stone Mountain Middle School in Dekalb County and ended at the Blue Bird Manufacturing bus factory in the city of Fort Valley in central Georgia.

EPA Administrator Outlines Benefits of EV Buses for Georgia

After his tour of the Blue Bird EV bus production line Monday, Regan praised the agency’s relationship with the factory and the burgeoning EV bus marketplace. 

“What we're doing is a public-private partnership to help spur that market,” Regan said. “More buses lead to more sales, leads to economic growth, job creation. Not to mention that these buses are cleaner so our children are not breathing that dirty diesel air. You have less asthma attacks, less respiratory distress.”

The bus program is a $5 billion expenditure of the federal Infrastructure and Investment and Jobs Act.

Acceleration of Electric School Buses in Georgia

Both Dekalb County Schools and Clayton County Schools received grants in excess of $20 million, which both districts plan on using to purchase 50 electric school buses. 

Other grant-winning districts planning on EV buses include Richmond County, Bibb County and Carrollton City Schools. 

Map showing Georgia Counties receiving federal funding for alternative fuel school buses in georgiaMap: Grant Blankenship/GPB - Source: EPA - Created with Datawrapper

But the majority of the planned purchases through the just over $141 million in total grants across a dozen districts are for propane-powered buses. That’s the case for Floyd County Schools, slated for 61 of the buses which, while still powered by a fossil fuel, have tailpipe emissions far less harmful to air quality than diesel buses. 

Economic Impacts of Alternative Fuel Bus Funding in Georgia

Fort Valley-headquartered Blue Bird Manufacturing makes both propane and electric buses and has also found a role for itself as a facilitator between the EPA and school districts around the country wary of the red tape around securing a grant on their own.

Blue Bird Corp employees building a school busGrant Blankenship/GPB News

Blue Bird has so far landed about $170 million of direct program grants. While company CEO Phil Horlock told Regan the company can put together three or four bus EV chassis a day, he also said Blue Bird has a backlog of 600 orders to work through. 

"Battery supplies are really struggling to keep up with us," Horlock said.

The new announcement brings total Clean School Bus Program spending in Georgia to about $192 million in 27 school districts.

The next round of program funding is scheduled to be announced in April.

This story comes to Drawdown Georgia through a reporting partnership with GPB News, a non-profit newsroom covering the state of Georgia.

Stay Up to Date on MOCA’s Work to Increase Electric School Buses in Georgia

Throughout the year, we will provide updates on the work of all Drawdown Georgia Climate Solutions & Equity grantees, including MOCA’s work to connect school districts across the state with funding for electric buses. Subscribe to our blog now so you never miss a post.

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About Author

Grant Blankenship
Grant Blankenship

Grant is an editor and reporter for GPB News based in Macon. In the spirit of the old photojournalism dictum 'f8 and be there', he believes the best stories start with field trips.

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