Bill would pave way for electric school buses

In an effort to make the Silver State’s air cleaner, the push to make the switch from bio-diesel or propane to electric school buses is underway at the Nevada Legislature.

“We are looking at expanding to electric school buses, especially since, you know, you’re hauling kids around on them all day or the kids are at the bus stop waiting next to the buses. So, we already have anti-idling equipment but the electric school buses would make the air quality around the students much better,” says Washoe County School District’s Energy and Sustainability coordinator Jason Geddes.

Senate Bill 299 would revise laws related to the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Demonstration program to allow school districts to take part in the program and use the existing funds already allocated to build up electric infrastructure.

“The electric school buses are still rather new technology and they’re quite expensive. So, they cost about three and a half times the cost of a normal school bus for the initial purchase,” says Geddes.

According to Geddes, electric school buses cost about $350,000 versus $100,000 for the buses they currently use. If SB 299 passes, schools will receive a 75 percent incentive.

“And that 75 percent incentive would help pay for 75 percent of that $350,000 cost, so that we could acquire those within our budget. As you know Washoe County and Clark County and other school districts are in tight budgets so we really can’t afford to be bringing in these technologies right now and this would help us,” says Geddes.

According to Cameron Dyer with Western Resource Advocates, the major counties in Nevada are meeting the national air quality standard, but not by much and this bill could help.

“I know that in Washoe County we are within the attainment status required for air quality; however we are just marginally there. So I think that any changes we can make whether it is for transit systems or school district buses are going to help that out a lot,” says Dyer.

Both Dyer and Geddes say they can’t think of any reasons SB 299 wouldn’t pass.

“Nevada has been a leader in renewable energy through solar and through geothermal and this is just one more way we can keep Nevada as a leader, as well as match other states around the west with incentivizing electric vehicles,” says Dyer.

Geddes adds the pilot program is very limited and if passed, a few buses would be added, as soon as next school year, with the hopes of eventually moving to a full electric fleet over a long period of time.