Albertville City Schools will receive $7.5 million toward the purchase of 19 electric school buses. The purchases will be covered through a rebate program of the Environmental Protection Agency.
The new buses will generate an estimated $150,000 each year in fleet renewal funds for the next 10 years for Albertville City Schools.
The 19 electric buses will replace older diesel-modeled buses in the fleet, with buses manufactured in 2010 or before being scrapped and buses manufactured after 2011 being sold. The school system will be able to keep the money generated from buses sold and will also benefit from lower maintenance costs, estimated at $10,000 each year, and fuel savings, estimated at $40,000 each year, according to a release from the system.
The system also will purchase 10 charging stations, also covered by the rebate program.
“I want to thank Transportation Supervisor Jimmy Umphrey for working on this project,” said Todd Watkins, Albertville City Schools executive director of student services. “This is a result of his forward, out-of-the-box thinking. He’s done all the methodical work on this project.”
The bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021 authorizes the EPA to offer rebates to replace existing school buses with clean and zero-emission models to reduce harmful emissions from older buses. In September, the EPA announced it would nearly double the funding awarded for clean school buses this year following high demand from school districts across the United States that applied for the 2022 Clean School Bus Rebates. These awards represent the first $1 billion of a five-year, $5 billion program under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
As a rural school district with more than 80% of its students living in poverty, Albertville City Schools was awarded $7.5 million. It will work with Southland Transportation Group, of Birmingham, to purchase the buses. The rebate per bus totals $375,000, plus $20,000 per bus in infrastructure funding, which includes the purchase of the charging stations. The Municipal Utilities Board in Albertville has offered to cover the expense of a new meter and transformer for the on-site charging stations. Preparation for the charging stations will begin in March.
Once purchased, the electric buses will make up about 30% of the fleet at Albertville and will be used for inter-district routes. As part of the commitment, Albertville City Schools will run the buses for at least five years and commit to an audit of the district’s expenditures to ensure they comply with federal program standards.