Michigan signs agreement paving way for 7 school districts to buy electric buses

September 12, 2019
Debra S. Swartz, SwartzD@Michigan.gov, 517-284-6903
Nick Assendelft, AssendelftN@Michigan.gov, 517-388-3135 


Seven Michigan school districts will be the first in Michigan to use electric buses to transport students under a funding agreement signed today with the state.

Ann Arbor, Gaylord, Kalamazoo, Oxford, Roseville, Three Rivers, and Zeeland school districts will receive a total of $4.2 million from the Michigan Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s Fuel Transformation Program to pay for up to 70 percent of the costs associated with buying 17 zero-emission buses as well as Level 2 and DC Fast Charging stations. Some of the zero-emissions buses will be on the road as early as this year.

“Since taking office, I’ve been deliberate in combating climate change, protecting public health here in Michigan, and advancing our state’s technology and the transportation landscape in a way that also improves lives,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “Programs like these that replace diesel-powered school buses with electric models allow for students to learn about advancing technology and see what a real impact they can have when it comes to climate change. These advancements put Michigan on track toward environmental sustainability and reinforce Michigan’s continued leadership when it comes to next generation transportation.” 

The Michigan Association for Pupil Transportation, with the support of EGLE's Materials Management Division, developed the school bus replacement project. Zeeland Public Schools is the project manager.  

“EGLE is proud to be a part of this program, which will benefit Michigan children and the environment for years to come,” EGLE Director Liesl Clark said. “There’s nothing more important we can do for our kids than taking innovative action on climate change and providing healthy learning environments where they can reach their full potential.  Electric school buses deliver on both counts.”     

Contaminants from diesel exhaust include more than 40 substances listed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency to have known adverse health impacts on humans.

The electric bus program is adding to an ecosystem in Michigan that is leading the way in transforming the way people and goods are transported across all modes of transportation. PlanetM – the statewide mobility initiative within the Michigan Economic Development Corporation – is also partnering to help deploy the fleet of electric buses. 

“This project highlights how Michigan’s mobility landscape continues to evolve in a way that also delivers transportation solutions and improves the quality of life for resident in the state,” said Jeff Mason, CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “The MEDC, through our PlanetM initiative, is pleased to be a part of a collaboration with state and local partners that is once again demonstrating Michigan’s national leadership in mobility.”   

“The Michigan Department of Transportation is committed to expanding mobility options for everyone, and this collaboration underscores the exciting new ways Michigan is addressing transportation issues in the state,” MDOT Director Paul Ajegba said. 

The buses will be built by Lion Electric Co. and Thomas Built Buses / Proterra. PlanetM, DTE Energy Co., Consumers Energy Co., Indiana Michigan Power Co., and the Michigan Municipal Electric Association are partnering with the school districts on vehicle charging infrastructure. 

EGLE’s Fuel Transformation Program is financed through the Volkswagen Mitigation Beneficiary settlement after the automaker was fined for installing emission control defeat devices on many of its diesel vehicles. 

Besides buses, the Fuel Transformation Program will fund replacing older diesel vehicles and equipment including shuttle and transit buses; local freight switchers; airport ground support equipment; ferries and tugs; and port cargo handling equipment.

To stay up to date on other EGLE news, follow Michigan.gov/MIEnvironment.

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