Volkswagen Settlement Funds Used To Purchase Propane School Buses

(August 13, 2019) — South Carolina officials will use the first round of money from the state’s share of the Volkswagen Settlement Fund to buy new propane-powered school buses. The new vehicles will replace aging buses operated by the South Carolina Department of Education. Settlement funds will also be directed at investments in clean-energy public transportation in the Lowcountry and in the city of Anderson.

The spending plans were outlined by Gov. Henry McMaster, Superintendent of Education Molly Spear- man, and Department of Insurance (SCDOI) Director Ray Farmer. “This is a good day for South Carolina and a good day for our team,” said McMaster. “I want to thank superintendent Spearman for submitting this proposal and making sure this money goes toward getting the new buses that students need. I also want to thank director Farmer and his team for doing the work necessary to determine that this is the best use of these funds for our students and the people of South Carolina.”

“I’ve had the pleasure of serving alongside Gov. McMaster and the South Carolina General Assembly, and we’ve all been committed to improving South Carolina’s school bus fleet,” Spearman said. “Today is an exciting day. I am so thankful that the Department of Insurance has seen the need and has supported us in this effort.”

In June 2017, McMaster designated SCDOI as the lead agency in determining how the state’s share of the Volkswagen Settlement Fund’s $34 million should be spent. Under settlement terms, the lead agency must administer and develop a written beneficiary mitigation plan explaining how the funds will be used within a state to reduce emissions, and seek public input for the use of the money.

“While these initial funds are a great step, our work on the project is only beginning,” Farmer said. After a public comment period, SCDOI partially funded three of eight total applications. Awarded to the South Carolina Department of Education were 78 Thomas Built propane school buses. Lexington District 1 will receive 22, Horry County Schools 20, Richland District 2 18, and Beaufort County Schools 18. The award amount was up to $7,872,618, which covers 100% of the project costs. Revenues from scrappage of old buses will be allocated toward project costs.

The Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments will receive two electric transit buses and charging stations under an award amount of up to $1,386,950.40. The city of Anderson will receive a CNG transit bus. The award amount was up to $73,568.55.

Both the council of governments and Anderson will provide additional funds to cover project costs. For more information regarding the Volkswagen Settlement Fund allocations, visit doi.sc.gov/vwsettlement.

(SOURCE: The Weekly Propane Newsletter, August 12, 2019)