Story by Mike Nolting, MetroNews
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Monongalia County school system still plans to purchase electric school buses despite being turned down for a full grant from the federal EPA.
Monongalia County School Superintendent Eddie Campbell said district will now receive grant money to reduce the cost of the full-size BEAST clean bus from GreenPower Motor from $385,000 to $110,000.
According to Campbell, a new diesel bus costs about $130,000, creating a saving on each purchase. Additionally, Campbell said the newer buses will lower the average age of the fleet, increasing its overall value.
“Even at $110,000 for the EV buses, we could be saving close to $20,000 per bus purchase,” Campbell said.
Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency rescinded funding for Monongalia County Schools and eight other districts to purchase clean buses after an analysis determined West Virginia is more of an urban state than rural.
Campbell said the agency measures the state using air miles rather than road miles. Reducing the actual distance between cities in the state on the application.
“I was kind of dumbfounded as well when they said that was the reason we were going to lose the funding,” Campbell said. “The explanation we received is complicated, that’s the best way I can describe it.”
Campbell said a meeting was quickly called the following day with U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, and they found the urban/rural assessment would be thrown out and the district would receive partial funding.
“Apparently that information is not accurate either,” Campbell said. “They did tell us we would still receive funding, but it wouldn’t be for the full cost of the buses and that we would be responsible to pay $110,000 for each bus.”
Manchin said he will work with the EPA to make sure all West Virginia school systems have to grant funds for clean buses.
“They were going to make changes to the formula for round three of the grant, so there will be another round,” Campbell said. “It’s open now and we’ll put another application in for that.”