Bill aims to appropriate $20M annually to promote use of electric school buses

There are more than 15,000 diesel-powered school buses in New Jersey. Replacing them with electric school buses would help lower carbon emissions.

But it comes at a great cost.

Recent estimates said electric buses cost $400,000 per vehicle — far more than the $150,000 cost of a diesel-powered bus.

The Senate Environment and Energy Committee is looking for a way to help lower those costs.

On Monday, the committee approved bill S886, which would appropriate $20 million annually for the Electric School Bus Financing Fund, which would provide loans and other types of financial assistance to help school districts purchase electric-powered school buses.

The fund, created by the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank, would be funded with $20 million annually from the existing Societal Benefits surcharge on utilities and any federal funds that could be secured.

State Sen. Bob Smith (D-Piscataway), the chair of the committee and sponsor of the bill, said its merits are strong.

“The electrification of school buses offers a promising opportunity to reduce emissions, reduce energy costs and better protect the health of schoolchildren,” he said.

The bill was approved with a vote of 3-1. It’s still to be determined if it will advance.