EPA’s All-Electric School Bus Plans Hit Major Roadblock

An ambitious Environmental Protection Agency plan to convert all school buses to electric-powered vehicles has hit a major roadblock.

A recently-released report from the EPA inspector general says that there isn’t enough infrastructure for the EPA to meet its goals in a timely fashion.

The report focused its analysis around potential problems that the Clean School Bus Program might face. It lays out that utility companies are going to see a significant increase in demand for power and charging stations, and it’s not a demand they’re likely to be able to meet right now.

In 2021, the bipartisan infrastructure package allocated $5 billion over the next five years to replace all school buses that are powered by diesel fuel with vehicles that run on electric.
The EPA has looked into funding that by issuing rebate programs and various rebates.

But, the inspector general report revealed that while the idea might be a good one, it’s not very likely to happen soon.

As the report lays out:

“Increased power supply demands could delay electric school bus deployment. We identified concerns with delays related to the infrastructure needed to support the bus charger manufacturers and the increased demand on utilities.

“The most common infrastructure upgrades needed to support the bus chargers are transformers, electrical lines and switch changers. … The increased demand on manufacturers and utility companies may impact the timeliness of replacing diesel buses and ultimately may delay program health and environmental benefits.”

If the EPA wants the fleets of electric school buses to be able to be fully functional and serve the needs of school districts, they’ll need to rely on utility companies to help them. In that regard, there will need to be significant charging infrastructure added to what’s currently available.

One of the problems the inspector general’s report identified is that applicants to the program aren’t required to coordinate with a utility company before they switch to electric school buses. This is one major area of problems that the program will likely run into at some point.

The EPA inspector general also previously outlined concerns about the program related to abuse, fraud and waste. On December 27, the EPA’s assistant inspector general, Jason Abend, wrote a letter expressing these concerns to Joseph Goffman, who works at the Office of Air and Radiation at the EPA.

The letter read, in part:

“Our initial investigation of its protocols found that the Clean School Bus Program is rife with potentially inaccurate information. We also identified instances in which entities lacking student enrollments applied for and received funding, imperiling the program’s principle of equitable resource distribution.”

A spokesperson for the EPA said the agency was reviewing all of the concerns that the inspector general outlined in the recent report. He told the Daily Caller News Foundation that, for now, they would have no further comment.

Switching all school buses to electric seems more and more like it’s a pipe dream and not a realistic expectation.