Purchase of diesel buses on LTUSD agenda draws ire; Meeting is tonight | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Purchase of diesel buses on LTUSD agenda draws ire; Meeting is tonight

Laney Griffo / lgriffo@tahoedailytribune.com
LTUSD conducted a test drive with a new electric school bus in November 2018.
Provided / Rebecca Bryson

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Lake Tahoe Unified School District will host its last meeting of 2019 on Friday, Dec. 13.

This meeting is expected to draw a good-sized crowd on behalf of one issue — buses. 

Climate activists and members of the community have pushed the district to replace 50% of its fleet with electric buses. 

A lawsuit against Volkswagen over false emissions ratings resulted in a $14.7 billion settlement in 2016. Money from that settlement was shared by the United States. 

In California, the money was used to start the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust which provides grants to entities trying to reduce carbon emissions. 

According to local activist, Nick Exline, four of LTUSD’s buses qualify to be replaced through this grant. 

In addition, Liberty Utilities has a grant available that would help the district install charging infrastructure. 

Exline has worked with volunteers from the 100% Renewable Committee to write both of these grant applications. According to Exline, this whole process would be free for the district. 

On the agenda for tonight’s meeting, the board will approve the purchase of one electric bus and four diesel buses. 

The electric bus is mostly covered by a grant from the California Energy Commission, so it will cost the district $4,600. 

The diesel buses will cost $780,000 which the district will pay over 10 years. 

The Tribune reached out to the district but has not heard back. 

The rationale listed in the meeting agenda says, “It is the intent of the District to replace the fleet when financially feasible and in accordance with the Sustainability and Renewable Energy Committee goals; however, it has been deemed that electric buses are not feasible to be used as trip buses as also noted by Peter Tuckerman of The Lion Electric Co.”

An unsigned report included in the agenda said, “Electric Buses are a Wonderful idea, but they are untested in our diverse, treacherous, mountain community. We do not have the infrastructure in our location or in the communities where we drive our students for athletic and other trips to accommodate recharging.”

LTUSD received a grant in 2018 this year to purchase two electric school buses, the Tribune previously reported. The Tribune also reported the district expected to test drive the buses during winter last year and if all went well, the two buses were expected to be in operation for the 2019-20 school year.

Exline is unhappy with the district’s decision. He said, “My concerns were not simply that the district is short of money and in danger of being taken over by the county, but that there is actually no honest accounting of where and how the money is spent.”

Both of these items are part of the consent agenda and will not be discussed.

Also on the agenda for the meeting, election of roles for 2020 including President of the Board, Clerk of the Board, Representative to El Dorado County School Boards Association and Representative to the Lake Tahoe Educational Foundation. 

The board will also approve its meeting schedule for 2020. 

The meeting will begin at 5 p.m. at the LTUSD Board Room, 1021 Al Tahoe Blvd.

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