The Beaverton and Tigard-Tualatin school districts are getting quieter and greener electric school buses, thanks to Portland General Electric.
Beaverton and Tigard-Tualatin are among five K-12 districts to benefit from PGE's Electric School Bus Fund this year. The grant awards will be used to help cover the incremental costs — effectively, the cost between a standard diesel school bus and an electric one — to purchase one new electric bus for Beaverton School District and two for the Tigard-Tualatin School District.
According to PGE, the money originally comes from the Oregon Clean Fuels Program. This year's grants will allow not only the Beaverton and Tigard-Tualatin school districts to purchase electric buses, but also the Gresham-Barlow, Portland and Salem-Keizer school districts.
Those districts were selected "based on their commitments to meet the needs of underserved communities and incorporate the buses more broadly into student education around climate science," PGE officials said.
"With this new e-bus, we will have a total of three electric school buses in the district," Craig Beaver, Beaverton School District's administrator for transportation, said in a news release. "Our ultimate goal is to have 30 e-buses in our fleet within three years."
For the Tigard-Tualatin School District, these will be its first two electric buses. Both come with installed charging infrastructure, along with technical and training support.
"We are so pleased to receive this support from our partners at PGE," said Superintendent Sue Rieke-Smith in a Tigard-Tualatin School District news release.
She added, "The timing is perfect as we stand up a district climate leadership committee inspired by a team of high school students who approached the school board last spring. Thanks to their vision and leadership, the TTSD school board passed Resolution 2122-19 calling on the district, state Legislature, and Congress to take action on climate change. PGE's support will be foundational in our commitment to this work."
In return for the buses, the school districts will work with PGE and share their insights with other school districts that are hoping to upgrade to electric bus fleets, which are expected to be less expensive to run than diesel fleets, while also generating far less air pollution.
PGE says electric school buses reduce greenhouse gas emissions by half compared to diesel-fueled buses. Having no tailpipe emissions, the buses reduce carbon monoxide emissions and nitrogen oxide emissions by more than 80% than the diesel-driving models.
Also, the vehicles have fewer moving parts, with PGE estimating that the electric buses reduce maintenance costs by as much as half.
"Electrifying transportation is a key driver of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and an important step toward reaching our goal of 100 percent clean energy for all Oregonians," Maria Pope, president and chief executive officer of Portland General Electric, said in a statement. "Transitioning to all-electric school buses ensures that children and communities benefit. We are pleased to partner with school districts across the state."
Eastern Washington County is no stranger to electric buses.
In 2019, TriMet unveiled what was what is believed to be the first electric bus entirely powered by wind-produced energy from PGE, placed into service on TriMet's Beaverton Line 62.
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