Portland, Ore.—Looking ahead to the future when students can safely return to school, Portland General Electric (NYSE: POR) announced five winners of the 2020 School Bus Electrification Project, putting the first five electric school buses on the road serving Oregon students in 2021. Using funding from the Oregon Clean Fuels Program , the Beaverton, Newberg, Portland, Reynolds and Salem-Keizer school districts were chosen based on their commitments to meet the needs of underserved communities and incorporate the buses more broadly into student education around climate science. The five districts will each receive funding to purchase an electric school bus, install charging infrastructure, and provide technical and training support. The partnerships demonstrate PGE’s commitment to community collaboration and to future-oriented projects amid the COVID-19 crisis.
“Oregon students want to see action on climate change. PGE is answering that call by partnering with five school districts to put their first electric school buses on the road next year, lowering greenhouse gas emissions and helping schools reduce their operating costs,” said Maria Pope, president and CEO of Portland General Electric. “If we are going to meet Oregon’s climate goals, we must work together to build a clean energy future and electrify our transportation system for all.”
Salem-Keizer Schools Superintendent Christy Perry said, “We are so excited about this tremendous opportunity. Asthma is one of the leading causes for student absences, so by exploring electric school buses that have clean emissions, we are improving the health of our community.”
Beaverton School District Superintendent Don Grotting said, "We are very excited to have been chosen to participate in the introduction of electric school buses in Oregon through a partnership with Portland General Electric (PGE). Electric buses have zero emissions and lower operational cost over the life of the bus versus petroleum-based fuels. The air inside and outside the bus cabin is also healthier for our kids and our community. During an emergency situation, the electric bus can also be used as a power generator. As part of our commitment to equity, we plan to use the bus in areas of our district where historically underserved students reside."
The electric school bus program is funded by the sale of Oregon Clean Fuels Program credits, which PGE aggregates on behalf of residential customers who charge their electric vehicles at home.
PGE is covering the incremental cost of the electric school buses (the difference in cost between a standard diesel bus and an electric bus) and the total installation of charging infrastructure. PGE is also providing technical assistance to school districts throughout the process, including site assessments, cost-benefit analysis, vehicle and charger selection support, and driver and mechanic support. In return, participating school districts will work with PGE to share their insights and learnings with other school districts interested in electrifying their bus fleets. PGE is working in partnership with Pacific Power to support the Portland Public Schools’ electric school bus and related infrastructure.
Transportation is the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon and a major source of other air pollutants. Benefits of the electric school buses include:
Electric school buses reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than half compared to a diesel school bus
Electric school buses have zero tailpipe emissions and reduce carbon monoxide emissions and nitrogen oxide emissions—which have significant negative health impacts, including asthma —by more than 80% than a diesel school bus
Electric school buses are quiet, reducing noise pollution in neighborhoods
Drivers are better able to communicate with students
Electricity is less expensive than diesel, and prices are more stable over time
In addition to the electric school bus program, PGE established the Drive Change Fund with Oregon Clean Fuels Program credits, which awarded $2.25 million in grants this year for projects that expand access to electric transportation in the area.