Editorials, Opinion

Even without full grant, electric bus a great deal

School boards across the state have been on an emotional rollercoaster this week as the federal government plays yo-yo with grant money for electric school buses.

Multiple West Virginia counties thought they were going to get new zero-emission electric buses essentially for free, courtesy of the Environmental Protection Agency. And then the EPA re-evaluated its standards and decided nine West Virginia counties — including Monongalia County — weren’t rural enough to qualify for the grant program to buy the buses. And then three counties — Mon, Harrison and Mineral — had their grant funds partially restored, so instead of paying the full $385,000 for an electric bus, the counties will only have to pay $110,000.

That said, the post-grant sticker price is still $17,000-$20,000 cheaper than what school districts pay for a traditional diesel bus. So there’s less cost up-front, plus the savings in gas. Electric vehicle batteries and charging infrastructure are always improving, so miles per charge and where to charge up shouldn’t be a concern. Plus, the buses are manufactured in West Virginia by GreenPower Motor Co., so the purchase supports the state economy and jobs.

While we share the counties’ disappointment they won’t receive the full grants, we’re glad they’re following through with the electric bus purchase. School districts save money in the short- and long-term; the environment is protected from damaging emissions; and the state’s economy gets a boost. It’s a win no matter how you look at it.