Michigan Schools To See More Electric School Buses

Michigan Schools & Education NewsLansing, MI - A cool hundred: That’s how many clean-powered school buses are soon to join Michigan public schools’ fleets with help from newly announced federal investments.

Recipients were announced recently of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2023 Clean School Bus Program (CSBP) rebate competition, funded by the U.S. Government's Investing in America initiative. Michigan received $23.98 million out of nearly $900 million awarded nationwide. 

The rebates will help 27 selected schools and districts in Michigan (listed below) buy 97 buses powered by electricity and three powered by propane. 

“Prior to the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Michigan had just 17 electric school buses,” EGLE Director Phil Roos said. “I applaud the Biden Administration and our hardworking congressional delegation for investing in electric school buses, improving air quality, allowing schools to invest in the classroom, and helping us meet the goals of the MI Healthy Climate Plan. The EPA’s Clean School Bus program and investments from Governor Gretchen Whitmer have accelerated Michigan’s transition to a clean energy future. Today, more than 200 clean-powered school buses are on the road or arriving soon in Michigan. Let’s keep working together to protect the state’s most precious resources, our children, from harmful air pollution.” 

Michigan has nearly 17,000 buses that transport more than 800,000 students each school year. Investments in clean school buses will improve air quality for students and communities; lower costs for schools, allowing more dollars to flow to the classroom; and accelerate the transition to cleaner mobility solutions and the state’s progress toward the MI Healthy Climate Plan

“These Bipartisan Infrastructure Law dollars will help 27 school districts purchase new electric and clean school buses, providing a safer and cleaner ride to school for students while reducing costs for schools, allowing them to put dollars back into the classroom,” said Zachary Kolodin, Michigan’s chief infrastructure officer and director of the Michigan Infrastructure Office. “By investing in clean school buses, we’re not only upgrading our transportation systems; we’re improving air quality by reducing diesel fumes, safeguarding the health of students and communities across the state.” 

The announcement Wednesday, May 29, continues progress begun in 2019, when the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) awarded a $4.2 million Fuel Transformation Program grant toward the purchase of Michigan’s first 17 electric school buses and charging stations for seven pioneering school districts across the state. 

In November 2022, the EPA invested $54 million from the CSBP rebate competition toward 138 new electric school buses and infrastructure for 25 Michigan school districts, from Southeast Michigan to the Upper Peninsula. 

In July 2023, Governor Whitmer’s bipartisan fiscal year 2024 state budget also included $125 million to help school systems transition to clean buses, with a focus on the communities that need them most. 

In January 2024, another $5.93 million in grants was announced to buy 15 clean-powered school buses apiece for Detroit, Lansing, and Pontiac public school systems. In addition, funding through third-party multistate grantees was expected to purchase 10 buses in Flint; five in Redford Union No. 1 near Detroit; and two each in Mason County, Brimley, and the West Shore Educational Service District in Ludington. 

In the current funding round, the EPA selected approximately 530 school districts in 47 states, Washington, D.C., and several tribes and U.S. territories to receive nearly $900 million in funds. 

“President Biden believes every child deserves the opportunity to lead a healthy life and breathe clean air, and his Investing in America agenda is designed to deliver just that,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “With today’s latest round of funding, we are transforming the nation’s school bus fleet to better protect our most precious cargo – our kids – saving school districts money, improving air quality, and bolstering American manufacturing all at the same time.” 

Clean School Bus Program awardees 

The following Michigan public schools and districts received $23.98 million in rebate funding for 100 buses, powered by electricity except as noted: 

  • Allen Park: $1.04 million for five buses. 
  • Anchor Bay: $600,000 for three buses.  
  • Ann Arbor: $800,000 for four buses. 
  • Au Gres-Sims: $345,000 for one bus. 
  • Brown City: $345,000 for one bus. 
  • Cass City: $690,000 for two buses. 
  • Chippewa Valley in Clinton Township: $400,000 for two buses. 
  • Comstock: $1.04 million for three buses. 
  • The Dearborn Academy: $1.04 million for three buses. 
  • Grand Rapids: $5.18 million for 15 buses. 
  • Gwinn Area: $35,000 for one propane bus. 
  • Kent Intermediate: $3.08 million for 15 buses. 
  • Kentwood: $800,000 for four buses. 
  • Lansing: $1.73 million for five buses. 
  • Ludington Area: $1.2 million for six buses. 
  • Northville: $200,000 for one bus. 
  • Pellston: $200,000 for one bus. 
  • Riverview: $50,000 for two propane buses. 
  • Saline Area: $600,000 for three buses.  
  • Southfield: $220,000 for one bus. 
  • Stockbridge: $800,000 for four buses. 
  • Three Rivers: $400,000 for two buses. 
  • Traverse City Area: $200,000 for one bus. 
  • Trenton: $2 million for 10 buses. 
  • Troy: $400,000 for two buses. 
  • Vanderbilt Area: $200,000 for one bus. 
  • Woodhaven-Brownstown: $400,000 for two buses. 

About the EPA Clean School Bus Program 

President Biden’s 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided an unprecedented $5 billion of funding to transform the nation’s fleet of school buses. The CSBP funds electric buses, which produce zero tailpipe emissions, as well as propane and compressed natural gas (CNG) buses, which produce lower tailpipe emissions compared with diesel predecessors. 

Diesel air pollution is linked to asthma and other conditions that harm students’ health and cause them to miss school, particularly in communities of color and tribal communities. Phasing out older diesel engines will ensure cleaner air for students, bus drivers, and school staff working near bus loading areas, as well as in the communities through which the buses drive each day.  

The CSBP will save school districts money as they upgrade school bus fleets, replacing existing buses with brand new zero-emission and clean school buses while freeing up needed resources for schools. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from these bus replacements will also help to address the outsized role of the transportation sector in fueling the climate crisis. 

The latest funding builds on nearly $2 billion invested through 2022 Rebates and 2023 Grants. The EPA continues to review selected applications and may make additional awards in the current round.  

Prioritized school districts in low-income, rural, and tribal communities comprise about 45% of the newest selected projects and will receive approximately 67% of the total funding in line with President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative to deliver at least 40% of overall benefits from certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution.  

The EPA is also partnering with the federal Joint Office of Energy and Department of Transportation to provide school districts with robust technical assistance to ensure effective implementation. 

The EPA’s 2024 Clean Heavy-Duty Vehicles Grant Program is accepting applications through July 25, offering up to $932 million in available grant funding and anticipating approximately 70% of the available funding to help pay for new, zero-emissions Class 6 or 7 school buses. School districts are encouraged to apply for current and future funding rounds if they weren’t selected or did not apply for the 2023 program. 

View the full list of Clean School Bus Program awards.

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