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Dora schools get grant for electric school buses

SANTA FE – The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Wednesday announced the award of funding for five New Mexico school districts to buy 12 electric school buses.

According to a news release from New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich, founder and co-chair of the Electrification Caucus said, “I am thrilled to welcome this first round of funding for the Clean School Bus Program.”

“Electric school buses save New Mexico school districts money,” Tammy Fiebelkorn, New Mexico Representative of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project said.

Nena Benavidez, Co-Founding Director of Creciendo Nuevo México and resident of Grant County said, “This is a tremendous opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint and protect our rural environment.”

The news release reported the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law included $5 billion to help school districts buy electric school buses.

The law assigned the EPA the task of distributing the funds over 5 years.

School districts submitted the first round of funding applications this August.

EPA received so much interest in the grant program that the agency doubled the amount of funding to be distributed this year, to nearly $1 billion nationwide.

New Mexico districts that will receive funding in the first year are: Dora Municipal Schools, Las Cruces Public Schools, Dulce Independent Schools, Lake Arthur Municipal Schools and Pecos Independent Schools.

The initial round of funding prioritized low-income, rural and tribal school districts. However, all school districts are eligible for funding. EPA will be awarding more money in future years, including $1 billion anticipated for fiscal year 2023.

The EPA is encouraging all school districts, whether selected this round or not, to apply for future rounds of funding.

Brandon Hays, superintendent of Dora Consolidated Schools, said the district plans on buying two buses and the charging infrastructure.

Hays said the actual award amount is $610,000.

“This allows us to upgrade our bus sizes,” Hays said.

The electric buses are replacing two micro-buses that “no longer truly serve the school system’s needs” but are not up for renewal.

“It’s exciting to see if it will work,” Hays said. “It will save us on fuel costs.”

In a related story the New Mexico Environment Department awarded Sante Fe Public Schools funding for three electric school buses from the Volkswagen Settlement fund.