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Unit 5 to buy 5 electric school buses with grant money

Unit 5 school district building
Emily Bollinger
The Unit 5 District will combine state and federal grants to buy five electric school buses.

The Unit 5 school district will get almost $1.1 million to buy five electric school buses, with funding coming from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 2023 Clean School Bus Rebate Competition.

The announcement is separate from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Clean School Bus Grants Program competition that earlier awarded $1.2 million to Unit 5. The combined funding will pay for the five vehicles to be bid later by the district. Another $187,000 award will pay for charging equipment, said a Unit 5 spokesperson.

“No child should have to breathe diesel fumes on their way to school. These school bus grants represent a commitment to a healthier, greener future for our children,” said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. “By transitioning to electric school buses, we are reducing harmful diesel pollution and investing in the sustainability of our communities.”

According to a news release, 28 Illinois school districts will receive significant rebates — a combined total of more than $48 million from the first round of the federal EPA rebate competition. Durbin encouraged all districts to apply for round two.

“Transitioning to clean school buses puts Illinois on the path to healthier environments and it opens up new avenues for economic growth and job creation in our state,” added said U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill. “With this federal funding, school districts across our state have significant support to make these advancements and create a safer and more sustainable future not just for ourselves but for our kids and generations to come.”

The U.S. EPA also selected the Tremont, Washington, and Peoria school districts for the rebate program. Tremont Community Unit School District 702 will get $565,000 for three clean school buses. Peoria School District 150 will buy 14 buses with a $4.83 million award. Washington will get two buses with its $400,000 award.

The program, a $5 billion effort established under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, is designed to help convert the nation’s school bus fleets to low- or zero-emission vehicles, like electric buses, while improving air quality, reducing greenhouse gas pollution, and accelerating the country’s transition to zero-emissions transportation.

WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.