April 7, 2011

Hybrid Electric Horsepower for Kentucky Schools

The hybrid school bus project not only serves as a means to improve efficiency and be environmentally conscious. [It] will also provide students with learning opportunities across many subject areas. Teachers can develop lesson plans related to fuel consumption, air quality, and transportation costs, bringing real-world knowledge and hands-on experiences into the classroom.      
Terry Holliday, Kentucky Education Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Education

New hybrid electric school buses are clearing the air in Kentucky with help from the Commonwealth Clean Cities Partnership (CCCP). Thirty-one public school districts across the state have ordered 101 Thomas Built and International hybrid electric school buses, thanks to funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The new bus purchases are part of a project to introduce 213 hybrid school buses throughout the state. In August 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded $13 million to the Kentucky Department of Education to cover the incremental costs of hybrid buses over traditional diesel buses. Once the project is complete, Kentucky will have the largest hybrid electric school bus fleet in the nation, translating to significant reductions in petroleum consumption. Manufacturers estimate fuel savings will be as high as 40%, with increases in fuel mileage from 7.5 to 12 miles per gallon, relative to standard diesel buses.

Kentucky's hybrid school bus project will serve as an example for school systems across the country. The Kentucky Clean Fuels Coalition (KCFC), which houses the state's Clean Cities program, will gather performance data to share with other states, as well as with Kentucky students, who will be active participants in the project. KCFC plans to engage the students with onsite energy teams that can use the information for science and math classes.

"The hybrid school bus project not only serves as a means to improve efficiency and be environmentally conscious," Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said. "This project will also provide students with learning opportunities across many subject areas. Teachers can develop lesson plans related to fuel consumption, air quality, and transportation costs, bringing real-world knowledge and hands-on experiences into the classroom."

Cartoon logo of yellow school bus driving, caption reads