Ancient Islands Sierra Club’s Clean Energy Committee is continuing to urge the Polk County School Board to use funds from the $57 million settlement awarded to Florida from Vokswagen over its cheating on diesel emissions tests in violation of the Clean Air Act.
The application deadline is Jan. 18.
School Board members rejected a similar proposal last year in favor of purchasing propane-fueled buses, arguing electric buses don’t have range to handle bus routes, said Karen Freedman, the committee’s chair.
Freedman argues electric buses offer the advantage of having lower maintenance costs than conventionally-fueled school buses.
According to a fact sheet prepared by the Sierra Club, electric buses can save between $149,000 and $190,000 in fuel costs and $200,000 in operation and maintenance costs over the life of the vehicle.
School Board members often mention maintenance costs in connection with capital purchases for new facilities because they are recurring budget items. Adding electric buses and other vehicles would reduce the fiscal impact.
In addition, the reduction in emissions can reduce the threat of respiratory diseases such as asthma and cancer by reducing air pollution.
Meanwhile, there is a push to install more electric vehicle charging stations in more locations.
Nearly all of the charging stations in Polk County are located at private businesses rather than at government offices.