Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office
Kentucky school districts to receive federal funds to purchase new hybrid electric school buses

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, September 02, 2009  
Contact Information:  Jay Blanton
Jill Midkiff

Kentucky at WorkFRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky school districts will benefit from $12.9 million in federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to purchase new hybrid electric school buses.

Kentucky will replace about 200 diesel-powered units in school bus fleets statewide with Type C-Charge Sustaining Hybrid Electric school buses. The procurement process will begin in October, and school districts that intend to purchase new buses may choose hybrid electric vehicles at that time. There are currently more than 9,800 diesel-fueled school buses operating in Kentucky, and this project is designed to replace the oldest buses in the fleet.

“These funds will enable Kentucky to continue its outstanding school transportation service in our state’s public schools,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “Clean fuel technology is not just the wave of the future – it’s here now, and our schools are an excellent venue to showcase the benefits.”

The funds are provided as a result of a grant proposal submitted by the Kentucky Clean Fuels Coalition (KCFC). KCFC will coordinate with the Kentucky Department of Education, the Kentucky Office for Air Quality, the Kentucky Department of Energy Development & Independence and the Kentucky Finance & Administration Cabinet on the project. Education and outreach prior to and during bus delivery will be coordinated by the KCFC.

The buses will be part of a nationwide initiative to increase energy security, decrease dependence on foreign oil and reduce pollution. Once the project is complete, Kentucky will have the largest fleet of hybrid electric school buses in the nation.

The project is anticipated to provide a number of benefits, including:

  • extending the current 14-year life cycle of school buses to 18-20 years
  • reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 240 tons annually
  • saving approximately 122,000 gallons of diesel fuel per year
  • saving $950,000 over the life of the new buses by using regenerative braking systems that reduce maintenance
  • providing opportunities for students to observe and learn about hybrid electric technology firsthand

The Kentucky Department of Education will incorporate hybrid electric technology as a specification in the bus procurement process available to every school district in the state. Performance data will be tracked on a quarterly basis.

The Kentucky NEED (National Energy Education Project), in partnership with the KCFC, will provide teacher support and curriculum materials for schools participating in the hybrid electric school bus program. Teachers will be encouraged to use this project as an opportunity to make real-world connections in science, chemistry, mathematics and other subject areas for the students in their schools.

Hybrid electric school buses are more expensive that standard diesel-fueled buses – the base price for a hybrid electric bus ranges from approximately $126,000 to $133,000, compared to $85,000 for a diesel-fueled bus. The savings in fuel costs and environmental impacts, along with other benefits, make the use of hybrid electric buses a viable alternative for Kentucky’s public school systems. This grant will enable districts to purchase hybrid electric buses with a reimbursement process that will eliminate additional costs.