MENTOR, OHIO - The City of Mentor is celebrating a significant win for sustainability as they have been awarded a grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to support the purchase of a new all-electric school bus. Late last week, the Ohio EPA unveiled its generous grant of $329,000, which will cover 75% of the total cost of the eco-friendly bus. Mentor City Council enthusiastically approved the acceptance of the grant, and the city will also provide a 25% financial match, making the total project cost around $440,000. This decision took place during the regular meeting held on October 17, 2023.
The purpose of this new all-electric school bus is clear - to replace two aging diesel buses in Mentor's city fleet. These older buses have served their time, and the transition to electric represents a vital step forward for both the city and the environment.
The primary role of the electric bus will be to transport local children participating in summer camps and other programs, including day trips. The move towards an all-electric vehicle aligns with the Ohio EPA's broader initiative to invest $3.2 million in seven organizations across the state. These funds are dedicated to replacing aging diesel-powered vehicles and equipment with new, eco-friendly alternatives.
Ohio EPA Director Anne M. Vogel emphasized the significance of these grants in improving air quality, stating, "Every little bit helps when it comes to improving air quality. It’s exciting to know that these grants fund projects that will reduce the amount of pollutants released into the air. This is just one of many things the DeWine administration is doing to improve air quality throughout the state as we transition to modern, cleaner technologies for both transportation and industry."
Mentor City Manager Kenneth J. Filipiak expressed the city's excitement and commitment to sustainability, saying, "This is a big win for us, not just from the standpoint of being able to offset the majority of the cost, but it reinforces our commitment to sustainability in all of the many projects we have engaged in over the years. It's important to a large segment of our community, and council has supported similar projects in the past."
With the City Council's approval of the grant, the procurement process for the all-electric school bus will commence in the coming weeks. The city hopes to incorporate the new vehicle into its fleet by early 2025. As part of the project, a dedicated electric charging station will also be installed at the Public Works maintenance facility located at 6645 Hopkins Road.
This grant's funding stems from dollars allocated to Ohio as part of the settlement of an enforcement action against Volkswagen and its affiliated companies. The U.S. EPA and the state of California took this action for violations under the Clean Air Act. The grant program plans to invest $75 million over ten years to reduce nitrogen oxide pollution in Ohio. Selection considerations were given for specifically targeted reduction categories, including school and transit buses, as well as heavy-duty trucks. These projects aim to achieve the most significant reduction of nitrogen oxide emissions for the grant dollars invested.
A committee comprising representatives from the Ohio EPA and the Ohio Department of Transportation meticulously reviewed the grant applications and handpicked the grant recipients. For more information about the Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Fund and a copy of the state's Beneficiary Mitigation Plan, interested parties can visit the agency's VW program webpage.
The arrival of an all-electric school bus in Mentor signifies a step toward a greener and more sustainable future for the city, as well as contributing to the broader efforts to improve air quality in Ohio. With the support of the Ohio EPA and the city's commitment to eco-friendly initiatives, the community is moving in the right direction. The incorporation of this electric bus in the coming years will undoubtedly have a positive impact on both Mentor's young passengers and the environment.