On May 22, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) released an announcement about all of the school districts in Tennessee that will receive almost $9 million in grant funding to support school bus replacement projects across Tennessee. Of those districts, at least 14 districts won funding to replace diesel school buses with new alternative fuel buses! See the featured image map (above) and list of districts that won funding for CNG, electric and propane school buses (You can click on that file to expand it).
During the open application period in 2018, ETCleanFuels reached roughly two-thirds of the 95 counties in Tennessee to make sure they knew about the funding, and to see if they had any questions. Key partners in that outreach process were Central States Bus Sales, Inc., ROUSH CleanTech and Blue Bird Buses. Our team met and talked numerous times as we collectively worked to ensure districts got any assistance they needed.
Of the counties note above, several contracted with ETCleanFuels or spoke with us on a regular basis to get questions answered and submit all of their documentation. As can be seen from above, propane was the most widely sought after bus and alt-fuel type, so another facet of the work was providing school districts with contact information for several propane providers in their area that could take care of their infrastructure and
refueling needs. Working partners across Tennessee like Ferrellgas, Alliance AutoGas / Blossman, AmeriGas and others were ready to provide information and quotes to school districts, and have the experience necessary to help the fleet make as seamless-as-possible a transition to propane-powered buses.
All of the CNG school bus district applications were submitted in areas where public CNG stations already exist. These include Sevier County where Sevier County Utility District has already developed not only the public station but also a maintenance garage where partner-fleets can take care of needed system maintenance or repairs. In Scott County, Scott Appalachian Industries will help not one but two districts with their refueling needs.
Of the above-noted districts, three were already using alternative fuel school buses. The largest single alt-fuel school bus district in Tennessee is Clarksville-Montgomery County School System, which currently has 23 propane-powered school buses, is adding another 15 propane buses this fall thanks to a different funding source, and is expected to more than double that number (38) of propane buses in the next two years (through multiple grant opportunities).