New Jersey is putting up tens of millions of dollars over the next few years to put a dent in the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

You may start seeing more electric school buses picking up and dropping off children, as bus companies and school districts will soon be getting more money to make the switch from vehicles that run on diesel to vehicles that run on a battery.

"As our schools are retiring school buses — choose the cleaner option, and we'll make that no more costly for our school districts," said Shawn LaTourette, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

NJ's electric bus grant program

Following a law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in 2022, LaTourette on Wednesday announced the launch of New Jersey's Electric School Bus Grant Program.

Across three years, the program will provide up to $45 million to replace gas-powered buses with battery-electric vehicles and to install associated charging infrastructure.

The funding should allow the state to fund 40 to 50 electric buses per year. LaTourette said the the cost the state will take on is the difference between purchasing a diesel bus and purchasing an electric bus.

Also, the program will fund pilot projects that use the battery to provide power to a building during off-peak hours when the bus is parked, DEP said.

Applications from school districts and school bus operators must be handed in by May. Officials plan to focus on some of the most overburdened communities where air pollution tends to be the highest.

"This should be the last generation of New Jersey kids that grow up breathing diesel fumes on the school bus," said Doug O'Malley, director of Environment New Jersey.

LaTourette said he expects funding from the program to begin moving this calendar year. The price of electric buses should decrease over time as demand increases from districts and bus companies, he said.

"The end result is going to be improved air quality in our communities and lower costs to our school systems," LaTourette said.

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