Finally the time? NJ uses 15,000 diesel buses a day – now available federal funding could usher in the electric age

We’ll start with the financial quote, courtesy of Doug O’Malley, director of the Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center.

“Going to school shouldn’t include a daily dose of toxic pollution,” he said.

Hard to argue with that. And O’Malley is just getting started.

“The transition to fully electric buses would first and foremost ensure that our children have a clean and healthy journey to school,” he said. “But, beyond that, it also presents a great opportunity to make dramatic improvements to our state’s electrical grid, delivering significant new benefits to communities.”

Like everything about the green power push, the end result sounds good. Getting there, however, is not easy.

This may change.

Last week, billions of federal dollars began being made available to school districts across the country to transition to clean, electric school buses. With funding from the bipartisan Infrastructure Act, the Federal Environmental Protection Agency’s new Clean School Bus program will provide $5 billion over the next five years (fiscal years 2022-2026) to replace buses existing school buildings with zero-emission and low-emission models.

Doug O’Malley, director of the Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center.

The EPA is offering $500 million through the 2022 Clean School Bus Rebates for zero- and low-emission school bus rebates as the first funding opportunity.

The New Jersey Environment Research & Policy Center said the need is there. He said most of the country’s nearly half a million school buses run on diesel. On a typical school day in New Jersey, more than 800,000 students commute to school in one of the state’s 15,000 diesel school buses.

With support from the World Resources Institute’s Electric School Bus Initiative, Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group release a new report, “Electric School Buses & the Grid,” examining how the transition to electric school buses, in More than keeping diesel exhaust fumes out of developing lungs, could help accelerate the expansion of clean energy by providing a critical source of reliable battery storage.

The report follows the legislative review of S759/A1282, which will invest more than $45 million in electric school buses over the next three years.

The report, which is captioned “Unleashing the Power of School Transportation to Build Resilience and a Clean Energy Future,” concludes that if every yellow school bus currently in service in New Jersey were replaced with an electric bus equipped with the right vehicle for -grid technology, this would add more than 2,179 megawatt hours to the state’s ability to store electricity, enough to power more than 68,142 average American homes for a day.

James Horrox, lead author of the report, said the move is part of a clean energy future.

Electric school buses and the network

The report provides recommendations for legislators, utility companies and schools, including:

  • Legislators should fund electric school buses, grid-vehicle and energy storage pilot programs and support research to develop and standardize technology, regulations and practices regarding the use of electric vehicles to store and return energy. energy to the network. Legislators should prioritize funding for underserved communities.
  • Utility companies and regulators should partner with school districts and government officials, help fund electric buses, restructure electric rates to account for electric vehicle technology, and clarify regulations regarding the use of electric vehicles to store and return energy to the grid.
  • School districts should commit to a full transition to electric buses on a specific timeline and invest in as large a fleet as possible as soon as possible. They should also establish strong collaborative partnerships with utilities early on.

“The renewable and resilient electricity system of the future will rely on batteries to store clean electricity,” he said. “Electric school buses with vehicle-to-grid technology can play an important role in building this system, even as they purify the air our children breathe today.”

The moment has the support of some key lawmakers.

State Sen. Patrick Diegnan (D-South Plainfield), chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said the time for change has come.

“School buses are known to emit greenhouse gases and carcinogens, both of which contribute to climate change and threaten those exposed with high lifetime risks of developing cancer, asthma and heart disease. “, did he declare. “As a state, we aim to significantly reduce our carbon emissions and become a greener place to live.

“The transition from conventional diesel buses to zero-emissions ones will significantly reduce our state’s pollution levels.”

Assemblyman Sterley Stanley (D-East Brunswick), deputy chair of the assembly’s environment committee, agreed.

“Investing in electric school buses is investing in a sustainable and healthy future,” he said. “We have the opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enable vehicle-to-grid technology. This is just the beginning of how electric school buses will power our future.

This additional storage could accelerate the transition to a renewable energy grid and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation and power generation sectors. As electric school buses are typically only used for specific short periods of time, the buses could absorb renewable energy when it is abundantly available and release it during times when it is not, such as at night. It could also allow electric school buses to provide additional power during unexpected peaks in demand or backup power during outages. Electric utilities and system operators could compensate school districts for the network services provided by their buses, saving school districts a lot of money over time.

Bill Beren, transportation president for the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club, said the state needs to get back to its game.

“New Jersey lags far behind other states in the region when it comes to electrifying the state’s school bus fleet,” he said.

“Only $25 million was allocated from the VW settlement and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative payments to purchase 77 electric school buses. Meanwhile, Montgomery County in Maryland signed a contract to replace all 250 diesel school buses in their fleet, and New York City and now New York State have set goals to replace all of their buses. diesel school buildings by 2035.”

O’Malley said it all made perfect sense.

“Children need a clean route to school and a future powered by reliable, renewable energy,” he said. “By fully harnessing the power of electric school bus technology, we can invest in cleaner and more efficient transportation and energy systems at the same time.”

Catch phrase

Contact Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center at: or call 609-392-5151.