Tennessee alternative fuel rebate programme helps acquire new Autogas school buses

Washington County Schools (WCS) celebrated the addition of new LPG-powered school buses to their fleet through a ribbon-cutting and “big check” presentation event. In late 2019, WCS applied for and won $102,500 towards their efforts to replace older diesel buses through the Tennessee’s “Reducing Diesel Emissions for a Healthier Tennessee” (RDE4HT) Rebate Programme.

The new Autogas buses were received in July, checked and tested by WCS transportation staff and started use in recent weeks. Jonathan Overly of the East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition served as the event emcee.

“This is part of our overall plan to both reduce operating costs here in Washington County Schools and to reduce our carbon footprint. This project is good for students, good for our community, and good for the bottom line,” said Director of WCS Dr. William Flanary. “I learned that the diesel school buses that you see around our lot here have over $20,000 worth of parts (per bus) that an Autogas bus does not. Those are parts that we will not have to repair or replace over the 16-year life of these new buses, so the math adds up quickly – we will start saving money almost immediately.”

The new buses are Blue Bird “Vision” (type C, front nose) buses and are dedicated –meaning they only run on LPG. Blue Bird’s partner ROUSH CleanTech designed the LPG systems for the buses. The systems encompass everything from fuel storage and management to the all-important safety systems.

During the event, Chuck Harvill of Central States Bus Sales said “[These Autogas buses] are cleaner, cheaper and easier. We applaud WCS looking at alternatives that provide cleaner transportation that’s healthier for the children on the bus, and cheaper so they can put more money back in classrooms and to teachers, and easier so bus transportation staff can focus their time on getting the kids to school safely, not having to worry about maintenance headaches.”

The RDE4HT Rebate Programme is state Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funding that the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) manages and contracts with the East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition to operate and oversee.

Out of the 95 counties in Tennessee and roughly 150 school districts, there are now almost 15 districts that have built or are building alternative fuels programmes utilising Autogas and other alternative fuels. Many districts are recognising the cost savings and other advantages that come with switching to LPG-powered school buses. For more information, please visit this link.

16 September 2020