New Hampshire

Henniker one of two NH school districts to win electric-bus grants

Published: 27.10.2022 09:49:54

By DAVID BROOKS

monitor staff

Electric school buses will come to Henniker and Rumney, the two New Hampshire school districts that have received rebates as part of nearly $1 billion the EPA has awarded to 389 counties across the country to encourage the clean transit transition for speed up public schools.

About 20 other New Hampshire public school districts, including Concord, have applied for the rebates but have been placed on a waitlist. The prizes were awarded through a lottery system.

In May, EPA announced a $500 million commitment to its Clean School Bus program. In response to overwhelming demand from school districts across the country, including in low-income communities, tribal nations and territories, the EPA nearly doubled the amount of the grant to $965 million. The discount application period ended in August.

School districts that have received an award can now purchase new buses and eligible infrastructure such as charging stations and electric upgrades. The EPA works with the US Department of Energy and the US Department of Transportation to provide technical assistance to school districts.

Henniker received $1.6 million in rebates for four electric buses. It contracts its bus service to Student Transportation of America, one of the nation’s largest school bus operators, from a facility in Weare.

Henniker is part of SAU 24 with Weare and John Stark High School. It is not clear whether the electric buses can also be used for these systems.

Electric school buses are much more expensive to buy than petrol or electric buses, but they have many advantages, starting with avoiding exhaust pollution. Electric vehicles also have much lower running costs, both because they are cheaper to fill up with gas and because they are much simpler machines than internal combustion engine vehicles and require less maintenance.

Another advantage is that bus batteries can be used to store and sell electricity as they spend much of their time sitting and working on predictable schedules, which helps stabilize the power grid and makes some money for school systems.

Awards include the opportunity to spend up to $20,000 per Grand bus on infrastructure such as chargers and electrical system upgrades.

China is way ahead of the US in electrifying its school bus fleet. In this country, an estimated 60,000 electric buses were on the roads in 2020.

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