In Wednesday’s Michigan House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation meeting, Clean Fuels Michigan Executive Director Jane McCurry presented about the benefits of electric school buses and asked the legislature to invest $45 million to pilot electric bus incentives. Jane was joined by Trish Reed of IC Bus, Katrina Morris and Mac Dashney of Michigan Association for Pupil Transportation, and Manoj Karwa of Rhombus Energy Solutions.
If you would like to watch the full hearing, it is available online here.
Background: The Opportunity
At the beginning of November, the MI Clean Future Coalition was formed to call for state funding to advance clean transportation in Michigan. The proposal asked for smart investments in three core categories: clean vehicles, 21st-century infrastructure, and workforce development.
Over the past month, the focus of the campaign has been on the State’s Fiscal Year 2023 Budget. Like many states, Michigan currently has excess general funds in addition to federal stimulus funds, giving us a clear opportunity to make strategic investments in clean mobility to safeguard jobs and invest in cleaner air for everyone. As the global auto industry changes, we need to double down to support advancements in the mobility industry as a critical economic driver. Together, our proposed investments in vehicles, infrastructure, workforce, and economic development will show that Michigan is serious about supporting the evolving mobility industry.
To advance the coalition’s goals for the state budget, Clean Fuels Michigan Executive Director Jane McCurry has met with over 20 legislators in the past month to discuss this topic. As a result of one of these discussions, she was invited to speak at the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation meeting on Wednesday specifically about one of the ‘asks’ in the budget campaign: to fund a pilot program for electric school buses and transit buses.
The Presentation: Electric School Buses
The focus of the discussion was on the opportunity; an investment of $45 million to pilot electric bus incentives that can help bus fleets overcome the upfront cost barrier of purchasing electric buses. Electric school buses produce fewer harmful emissions, are cheaper to operate, and provide an opportunity to support Michigan’s manufacturing base.
Additionally, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act created a $5 billion competitive fund for electric school buses. States with matching funds and robust programs in place will likely be more competitive and receive a larger share of those federal dollars. We believe that this program is an investment that will be leveraged and expanded upon by federal monies and private investment to have a much greater impact.
Electric school buses have been successfully deployed in Michigan. Katrina Morris and Mac Dashney from the Michigan Association for Pupil Transportation (MAPT) discussed their experience running a group-buy program for electric buses. Seven school districts participated in the program including, Ann Arbor, Gaylord, Kalamazoo, Oxford, Roseville, Three Rivers, and Zeeland. Even in the cold weather of northern Michigan, the Gaylord Public School District has had a positive experience with its electric school bus.
We don’t want Michigan to be left behind. Trish Reed, Vice President of IC Bus, a subsidiary of Navistar, spoke about the IC electric school bus and pricing. IC electric school buses are manufactured in the United States and IC Bus expected total cost of ownership to reach parity with a diesel bus by the mid-2020s. Manoj Karwa, Vice President of Business Development at Rhombus Energy Solutions, provided an explanation of DC Fast charging, the importance of domestic manufacturing for Michigan jobs, and how vehicle-to-grid technologies can be a revenue source. He explained Rhombus Energy Solutions’ fast chargers that are made entirely in the Dearborn, Michigan manufacturing and testing facility.
Looking Forward: Clean Mobility for Michigan
Clean Fuels Michigan will continue to advocate for investments in clean transportation, including electric school buses. As these items move through the budget process in the legislature, we will continue to have these critical educational conversations and share updates with our members and partners. If you would like to get more information or learn how to support these budget requests, please do not hesitate to reach out to Jane McCurry at email@example.com.