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State Looking To Help New Mexico School Districts Transition To Electric Busses

Santa Fe Schools electric bus made an appearance in front of Roundhouse on Friday.
Kevin Meerschaert
Santa Fe Schools electric bus made an appearance in front of Roundhouse on Friday.

New Mexico is looking to help school districts transition to electric school buses.

The School Bus Modernization Act would provide New Mexico school districts the option to renew aging diesel buses with clean Electric School buses, overcoming disincentives to adopt them. 

Supporters say a transition from diesel to electric buses advances will improve physical and mental health for ALL New Mexico students, thereby addressing Yazzie Martinez mandates, and absenteeism,  reducing recurring transportation and energy costs, allowing districts to repurpose those dollars to the classroom and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, help grid resilience and more public charging stations in rural communities.    

Sen. William Soules is a cosponsor of the bill. He says electric school buses are already more cost effective than diesel.

“As the technology improves and the capacity to meet the demand gets better, the cost is going to go down. It’s already cheaper over the lifespan for one of these buses than it is for a diesel bus and that’s going to get better,” he said. “There’s some  new technologies of solid state batteries and others that give the potential for a school bus for having the potential for 500-plus miles at lower weights than with traditional types of lithium or other kinds of batteries.”              

Santa Fe Public School has one electric bus with more on the way. Superintendent Larry Chavez told members of the Education Study Committee that the electric buses run well and save the district money in the long run.     

The Clean School Bus Program is part of the 2021 Bipartisan Inflation Reduction Act. The $5 billion program is administered by the EPA. The Department of Energy’s site provides webinars and videos to inform states and school districts with case studies, and logistical strategies for transitioning to electric school buses. 

Still, the program funding falls short of the need to pay the entire cost of purchasing ESB’s and required charging infrastructure.    

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