CHICAGO (December 19, 2023) — Exelon (Nasdaq, EXC), in partnership with CALSTART, EPRI, Clean Energy Works, World Resources Institute (WRI), and Edison Electric Institute (EEI), today released a white paper examining how the electric school bus transition can deliver a wide range of environmental justice, health, and other benefits to customers, communities and the electric grid. In fact, replacing all diesel school buses in the United States with electric school buses would avoid approximately nine million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year, the equivalent of removing two million cars from the road. Accelerating deployment represents a significant opportunity for stakeholders, and this report can serve as a guide for public utility commissions, policymakers, and school bus operators to reduce common barriers to adoption and ensure an equitable transition.
With the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in effect, there is once-in-a-generation funding to electrify school buses across the nation. Included in this funding is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Clean School Bus Program, which will allocate a total of $5 billion over a five-year period to accelerate the replacement of diesel school buses with zero- to low-emission models. Nine districts across Exelon’s service areas have been awarded over $40 million in funding to electrify more than 100 buses in the first round of funding. So far, the program has awarded $1 billion to 349 school bus operators in 2022, supporting the replacement of approximately 2,500 school buses.
The utility industry is well-positioned to take a leading role in facilitating and accelerating this important market transformation and ensuring the benefits reach customers and communities in an equitable way. As the nation’s largest energy delivery company, Exelon is committed to working with school bus operators, districts, and other community stakeholders to provide recommendations on how to best leverage available resources to maximize benefits for residents of our service areas.
“School bus electrification has the potential to transform the energy grid by providing stability, capacity and emergency power when needed, but most importantly, this change will transform the lives of the students we serve as well,” said Sunny Elebua, Exelon’s Chief Strategy and Sustainability Officer. “At Exelon, we are committed to sustainable progress, particularly in communities where there are marked disparities such as air quality. We are proud of this study and the opportunity to address disparities and foster healthier communities.”
An estimated 25 million American children rely on school bus travel for safe transportation to and from school, accounting for billions of miles traveled each year. Efforts to reduce diesel exhaust from older diesel engines can offer health solutions and reduce harmful emissions – particularly in under-resourced communities that are impacted the most. Almost 95 percent of school buses, which transport 55 percent of all students, run on diesel. On average, 60 percent of low-income students ride the bus daily, compared to 45 percent of students in other income brackets. Black students and children with disabilities also rely on diesel school buses more than others.
“School bus electrification must scale up quickly and comprehensively to ensure an equitable transition and equal access to zero-emission technologies if we want to both address climate change and also create opportunities for jobs in the zero-emission sector,” said Jared Schnader, Senior Director and Bus Initiative Lead at CALSTART. “Zooming in on the critical role of electric utilities, as well as clarifying the interactions school districts and operators will need to have with their utilities, will enable this transformation to unfold swiftly and cost-efficiently.”
“Electric school buses provide many benefits to the utility as well as the community. But without carefully considering how to operationalize equity, these benefits run the risk of being unevenly distributed,” said Margarita Parra, Director of Transportation Decarbonization at Clean Energy Works. “Equity can serve as a pathway for utilities to be more efficient and effective in achieving their business and energy management goals, while addressing inequities and improving the quality of life for students, teachers, bus drivers, and the local community.”
“EEI and our member electric companies are committed to delivering resilient clean energy across our economy, and we are excited about all of the work underway to use that energy to reduce emissions from the transportation sector,” said EEI Senior Director of Electric Transportation Kellen Schefter.
“Contributing to this project highlights EPRI’s core mission to benefit society,” said David Porter, vice president of electrification and sustainable energy strategy, EPRI. “It not only advances the clean energy transition, but also benefits the millions of children and local residents impacted by cleaner transportation to and from school.”
“The importance of robust engagement by electric utilities in this transition cannot be overstated,” said Sue Gander, Director of the World Resources Institute’s Electric School Bus Initiative. “This new whitepaper describes the electric power sector’s unique and critical role in school bus electrification. We look forward to supporting utilities in bringing these recommendations to life – to unlock health, environmental, economic, and grid benefits for communities, starting with underserved communities that experience the worst impacts of vehicle pollution today.”
This whitepaper is designed to serve as a resource for elected officials, school administrators, and community members seeking to bring the benefits of electric school buses to their communities. To learn more about the white paper, visit www.calstart.org/electric-school-bus-transition.
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Exelon (Nasdaq: EXC) is a Fortune 200 company and the nation’s largest energy delivery company, serving more than 10 million customers through six fully regulated transmission and distribution utilities — Atlantic City Electric (ACE), Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE), Commonwealth Edison (ComEd), Delmarva Power & Light (DPL), PECO Energy Company (PECO), and Potomac Electric Power Company (Pepco). More than 18,000 Exelon employees dedicate their time and expertise to powering a cleaner and brighter future for our customers and communities through reliable, affordable and efficient energy delivery, workforce development, equity, economic development and volunteerism. Follow Exelon on Twitter @Exelon.