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District Awarded Funds for Electric School Bus

Caldwell County Schools is one of 50 school districts in North Carolina that will replace an older school bus with a new, more environmentally friendly model under the state’s initial share of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s settlement with Volkswagen for unlawfully cheating on vehicle emissions.

One of the largest portions of the settlement provided to a school district will go to Caldwell County Schools for an EV (electric vehicle) white activity bus with a charging station totaling $515,658.

“This award allows our district to continue to modernize and improve the existing bus fleet,” said Jay McCarraher, Transportation Director. “We’re excited to be one of the first in this area to have an EV bus.” 

The N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s initiative, the North Carolina Clean School Bus program, was funded with $11.2 million of the nearly $30 million in the first phase of the settlement awards. These funds will be used to purchase 103 low- or zero-emission buses powered by propane, electric or diesel fuels. The new vehicles will replace older diesel-powered models that burn more fuel and have far higher emissions. The electric buses will be zero-emission, and by some estimates, the new diesel and propane vehicles are about 90% cleaner than the older models

 “There’s a movement nationally to use less fuel and lower emissions and our district was generously awarded to be one of the first to pilot the EV bus,” McCarraher said.

As part of a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. accepted a $14.9 billion penalty after acknowledging that it installed devices on certain diesel vehicles to make them appear to meet strict emissions standards when in fact they did not.

The money will be used to buy back affected vehicles as well as fund environmental mitigation and investment to promote the use of zero-emission vehicles and infrastructure.

North Carolina will receive approximately $92 million, based on the number of affected 2.0-liter and 3.0- liter diesel engine vehicles registered in the state. The sum is part of the $2.9 billion designated for projects established through the VW’s Environmental Mitigation Trust.

McCarraher said the new bus and charging station would be available for use in Caldwell County as soon as next school year.