SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTVO) — The State of Illinois wants school districts to apply for available funding to convert their diesel school bus fleet to new, electric school buses.
The state has designated $27 million in a settlement with Volkswagen to fund the program.
In 2015, Volkswagen was found guilty of faking emissions results on its vehicles to meet US regulation standards.
Additionally, the federal government has allocated funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law toward purchasing electric school buses. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency announced $5 billion would be spent over the next five years, to be given out as grants.
Last year, $48 million in taxpayer dollars were used to buy 123 electric buses in Illinois, according to The Center Square.
“Very few school districts in Illinois are applying for these federal grants. At the state level, we want to help them do that,” said Megha Lakhchaura, state EV officer for the Illinois EPA.
Currently, 92% of school buses use diesel engines that emit nitrogen oxides and particulates into the air, which have been linked to asthma and other health conditions.
Electric school buses would require less maintenance, such as oil changes, and plug-in at the bus depot overnight to charge for the next day.
Many electric school buses are made in Illinois, at a Joliet plant run by Lion Electric.