Today, Governor Cooper visited a bus facility in Durham to highlight the recent significant federal funding for electric school buses in North Carolina. The Governor was joined by representatives from Durham Public Schools and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and received a tour of a state-of-the-art electric school bus provided by Carolina Thomas LLC. The funding, awarded by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus Grant Program, amounts to $26.7 million and will provide 114 new electric school buses to school districts throughout North Carolina.
“This funding for electric school buses improves the health and safety of North Carolina students, fights air pollution and bolsters our state’s economy,” said Governor Cooper. “We are grateful for our federal partners in the EPA and the Biden Administration for their continued investment in North Carolina which has helped move us into the clean energy future."
“We are extremely excited and proud to be the recipient of these funds,” said Dr. Pascal Mubenga, Superintendent of Durham Public Schools. “This award demonstrates that our district places a high priority on quality of life, academics, and environmental justice for our students. The training and professional development for our drivers and staff will serve to further enhance the skills and services we provide on a daily basis. I applaud our Operations department for its futuristic thinking.”
“The entire team at Carolina Thomas is excited about this historic award,” said Carolina Thomas General Manager Kelly Rivera. “It’s an honor to work alongside our North Carolina schools to foster EV school bus adoption. We look forward to helping these schools and districts get these Thomas Built Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley’s, a product proudly made right here in High Point, North Carolina, on the road.”
Over 98% of these buses will be deployed in prioritized school districts in low-income, rural, and/or Tribal communities, serving over 300,000 students across 13 counties. Grant recipients include public schools, charter schools, and tribal schools with significant investments in Durham (38 buses), Charlotte (27), and Cherokee Central Schools (15).
These 114 new buses are in addition to the 31 buses awarded to North Carolina schools under the Clean School Bus Program’s first round of funding in 2022. Gov. Cooper’s administration also funded 43 electric buses in 2022 through his settlement with Volkswagen. Combined, these investments over the last two years will put 188 electric, zero-emission buses on our roads transporting students to North Carolina schools. These awards contribute to several key pillars of Governor Cooper’s goals: better resourced schools, building a clean energy economy, and creating a healthier environment for North Carolina’s children and communities.
The Clean School Bus Grant Program was made possible by President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda and the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Additional funding opportunities for clean and resilient infrastructure projects in North Carolina are expected this year.
Carolina Thomas LLC, headquartered in Greensboro, was chosen as a grantee in the most recent round of Clean School Bus Grant Program awards. The company was awarded over $20 million to replace 61 diesel buses with electric models across 11 North Carolina school districts.
Governor Cooper’s administration will continue working to secure critical federal funding for electric school buses and other vital environmental projects in North Carolina as the state continues its transition to a clean energy future.