The Times West Virginian

March 10, 2013

Propane for school buses is pushed

Local officials hope for transition period if the bill is passed

By Kaylyn Christopher
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin recently introduced a bill that would encourage counties throughout the state to switch from bio-diesel fueled school buses to propane autogas fueled school buses.

The idea for the bill comes as a recommendation from the Governor's Natural Gas Vehicle Task Force.

Currently, those counties whose bus fleets operate on bio-diesel fuel benefit from an alternative fuel incentive in the form of a 10 percent reimbursement. Forty-two counties in the state currently take advantage of this incentive.

Should the recently introduced bill pass, however, those schools would need to make the transition to propane in order to receive the incentive.

At the most recent Marion County Board of Education meeting, Marion County Superintendent of Schools Gary Price and board members expressed their thoughts and concerns regarding the topic.

“If that bill goes through and we don’t implement it, it could cost us about $165,000,” Price said.

The West Virginia Department of Education’s Executive Director of Transportation Ben Shew said that the incentive would be offered based on the percentage of buses in a fleet that run on propane fuel.

“If 50 percent of the total mileage of the fleet is run by propane, you’d get half of the total incentive,” Shew said.

Price said that his hope would be that schools could ease into the transition over time.

“If that’s the direction we need to go we would like to have some time to phase that in and be reassured that it is a safer alternative to diesel fuel,” he said.


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