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Williamsfield to receive federal funding to purchase electric school buses

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The Galesburg and Williamsfield public school districts are set to receive grants to purchase electric or green-powered school buses for cleaner and healthier transportation of students.

These grants come from the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed by President Joe Biden last year. The law includes $5 billion for the Clean Bus Program.

Williamsfield Superintendent Tim Farquer said their selection means more than just new buses.

“It's just smoother, quieter, cleaner rides to and from school for our kids. But it's done in a way that these assets are able to be used outside of just transportation,” Farquer said.

The buses are intended to be charged in a way that allows for energy to flow to the buses and into campus buildings. Farquer said they expect to have a 60% reduction in energy costs in the next fiscal year.

“Financially for us, it's a tremendous move in the right direction. Most importantly, the technology of an electric school bus allows our students to ride to and from school in an emissions free environment,” Farquer said, “we have students with asthma or respiratory issues that diesel emissions can agitate. To be able to provide a clean environment to and from school for our most vulnerable kids is significant.”

The Williamsfield school district plans on keeping a diesel bus on hand in case of emergencies or field trips to places with no charging stations, but plans to fully utilize the benefits this grant provides.

The Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, originally allocated $500 million for clean buses in May, but was increased to $965 million in September. An additional $1 billion has been added as of October 1st, which began the budget year.

The EPA has received 2,000 applications requesting the funding for electric buses, and has selected around 389 which will grant $913 million in funding, which will allow the purchase of over 2,000 buses. School districts across the country will purchase cleaner-powered buses, mostly electric.

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Isabela Nieto is a student reporting intern at WCBU. Isabela is also a student at Bradley University in Peoria.