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New Jersey took a significant step toward expanding the use of electric school buses last month, passing a state Assembly bill that explores the possibility of using them.
The bill, A1282, requires the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to develop a three-year pilot program for up to 18 school districts to buy battery-powered buses and charging equipment. The bill appropriates $45 million — $15 million a year for the program, according to nj.com.
The bill passed along party lines, as Democratic supporters praised the opportunity to test reliability and examine cost effects of moving from diesel-powered buses to electric buses. Supporters cite the reduced exposure to pollution in the air for students when riding in electric buses, as well as rising gas prices, for reasons to go electric.
Bill detractors oppose additional spending on the study when more time and resources should be focused on the students’ learning loss and mental health issues in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Opposition also cited the state’s property tax bills, which are already among the highest in the country, as another reason to avoid the extra costs to taxpayers.
The article says that New Jersey school districts spend about $150,000 for each school bus, but initial costs of electric buses are in the $300,000-$400,000 range. Supporters counter that the districts save money in the long term because of less fuel and maintenance costs.
Dave Lubach is managing editor, facility market.
Net Zero Labs Pilot Initiative is expected to produce net-zero solutions that can be replicated at facilities across DOE, the federal government, and state and local governments