EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

Uintah School District purchases electric school buses

Aug 17, 2023, 11:00 AM | Updated: 6:13 pm

The photo is an image of a school bus. The Uintah School District said it will add several electric...

Uintah School District expects to save $76,000 in diesel fuel expenses from operating 10 new electric school buses. (Scott G Winterton /Deseret News)

(Scott G Winterton /Deseret News)

NAPLES, Utah — Some Uintah School District students will be riding electric school buses to school this fall. 

The district said it was able to purchase 10 electric buses as well as the infrastructure necessary to charge and maintain them. According to a press release, the purchase was made without spending local capital funds. 

The project was funded with money from settlements collected by the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. The district also received rebates through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus Program. 

Electric school buses

Uintah School District’s fleet includes 27 propane and 23 diesel buses, in addition to the 10 electric buses. 

Electric school buses provide a 100% reduction of tailpipe emissions. The reduced emission output by Uintah School District’s buses will reportedly improve the air quality in the Uintah Basin. Improved air quality will protect the health of community members. 

The district said that replacing 10 diesel buses with electric counterparts will result in an estimated annual reduction of 218 tons of emissions as well as reduced greenhouse gases. 

The new buses require less maintenance and have lower operating costs. The district expects to save $76,000 in diesel fuel expenses. 

How the decision to go electric was made 

The decision to switch was sparked by a letter from the Utah Petroleum Association, said Dr. Rick Woodford, Uintah School District’s superintendent. 

In that letter, President Rikki Hrenko-Browning noted the well-known air quality concerns in the Uintah Basin and its negative impacts on health as well as on local businesses. 

The letter encouraged “any efforts made by the local area to reduce emissions that impact our air quality, and particularly those that lead to our winter ozone challenges, such as diesel emissions,” according to the press release.  

“Our school board members did not make their decision lightly,” Woodford said. “They took the time to consider a lot of information and engaged in several in-depth discussions.”

Bryce Bird, Division of Air Quality Director, said “[the school district’s] commitment to the wellbeing of their students, bus drivers, and the community is clear, and their determination to think outside of the box and find solutions to air quality concerns is evident.

“We look forward to seeing the impact the electric buses will have. We look forward to continuing to partner with the Uintah Basin on common-sense strategies to improve air quality.” 

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Uintah School District purchases electric school buses