JUNEAU (AP) — Eight Alaska school districts have received about $4.5 million to replace dozens of diesel school buses with clean-burning buses under the Volkswagen Settlement School Bus Replacement Program.
The Alaska Energy Authority said 33 diesel school buses are expected to be replaced across the state, Juneau Empire reported Friday. The Alaska Energy Authority is tasked with reducing the cost of energy in the state.
Transportation contractor First Student Inc. applied for the buses through the Volkswagen program on behalf of multiple school districts, including the Juneau School District, said Betsy McGregor, environmental manager with the state Energy Authority.
First Student applied for one bus in Juneau, one in Kodiak Island Borough and four in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, McGregor said.
"The Juneau School District appreciates First Student's efforts in applying for the school bus replacement program," said District Chief of Staff Kristin Bartlett, adding that a 15-year-old bus will be replaced in the city. "It is a positive step toward improving air quality in our community and around our school buildings."
Anchorage School District is expected to receive 13 buses, the most of all the districts, officials said. Additional beneficiaries of the grants include Alaska Gateway School District, Kenai School District, Southeast Island School District and Kake City School District.
Alaska received more than $8 million as a result of a federal settlement between Volkswagen and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and 60% of the money is expected to go toward school bus replacement statewide.
The remaining amount of money awarded to the state is allocated toward public transit bus replacement, electric vehicle charging infrastructure and replacement of diesel engines used for prime power, officials said.
The settlement comes amid accusations that Volkswagen violated the Clean Air Act after they allegedly installed software in diesel vehicles that masked actual in-use emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, allowing the vehicles to pass emissions tests.