BUCKHANNON — Upshur County Schools announced that they have received confirmation of their second Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) Grant through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the 2020-2021 school year. This is the second consecutive year that Upshur County was selected for this funding.
“The first DERA Grant was applied by Dr. Stankus and Mr. Carver for the 2019 grant, which had to be applied for that Fall. We were the successful candidate and replaced four conventional buses,” explained Director of Transportation, Jodie Akers. Following that, the Transportation Department and Treasurer Jeff Perkins applied for the 2020 DERA grant in October, requesting to replace one transit and three conventional buses. According to Akers, “It is a requirement of the DERA Grant program to replace the buses listed on the grant application with the same bus in the same operational manner.” The county recently received the exciting news that their request was selected once again to receive funding for additional bus replacements for the 2020-2021 school year.
Akers elaborated, “According to WV Code, The Bus Replacement Funding is based on buses that are on a 12-year replacement cycle and the county receives 8.33% of the current replacement value of a bus each year. If the bus reaches 180,000 miles before the 12-year replacement cycle is complete, the county will be paid out for the remaining years on the bus in the funding year that it exceeded 180,000 miles.”
Based on the 12-year replacement cycle, the county is 22 buses behind schedule with this replacement process. They currently have two buses that exceed the 180,000 miles. One of these buses was included in the last DERA application. The other bus was determined to be added due to the age and condition of the bus, as it is the oldest transit bus of their fleet. Akers also noted, “Bus 58 was included in this last DERA application because it has a bad engine. Bus 59 was included in this last DERA application because it is the next oldest bus.” Akers added, “This information will help guide us in our bus replacement process as we move forward.”
DERA was enacted through the EPA due to students, bus drivers and staff being vulnerable to air pollution, both inside and near diesel school buses. Therefore, the EPA offers funding for projects such as the DERA Grant, that help reduce diesel emissions from existing engines. According to Akers, DERA allows EPA to offer rebates to replace old diesel engines. By scrapping old buses and replacing them with new cleaner operating engines to reduce emissions, health benefits are achieved.
The DERA grant offers up to $20,000 per bus, depending on the engine type of the replacement vehicle. Akers noted, “Both of the DERA Grants we received have offered us $20,000 per bus compared to the typical $3,000 that we would receive when buses are sold by sealed bid.” She concluded, “We are excited to be the recipient of the DERA Grant for the second consecutive year.”