[ARLINGTON, Va., September 6, 2022] — Today the Beneficial Electrification League (BEL) announced foundational sponsorship support from CoBank to support the League’s ongoing electric school bus initiative. The grant will support BEL’s outreach to utilities and school districts encouraging participation in a federally funded electric school bus rebate program for the year ahead.
The League has built a network of more than 350 utilities to increase awareness of the program – and the benefits of electric buses – in rural and disadvantaged communities.
“BEL was able to move the needle during the first year of the program, unlocking millions of dollars in rebates benefiting local school districts across the country,” said League CEO Keith Dennis. “The sponsorship grant from CoBank will help BEL leverage and grow the network to help ensure that school districts that receive school buses can have a good experience with their upgrade. We are grateful to CoBank for their support.”
In the 2021 Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs Act (IIJA), Congress funded an array of programs that aim to accelerate electrification of the economy, including a $5 billion grant program enabling school districts to purchase new clean buses, with a focus on electric buses.
“By having access to electric school bus fleets, rural school systems can help create more sustainable communities and lower operating costs. CoBank’s donation is intended to amplify the work that BEL and electric coops are doing together to educate rural school systems on how to access the resources created by the IIJA,” said Tamra Reynolds, managing director for CoBank.
“All too often rural communities lack the resources – time, money, and people power – to take advantage of federal programs designed to help them. Support from organizations such as CoBank and BEL can empower cooperatives to help close the gap between larger, well-funded jurisdictions and rural school districts,” said Chris Studer, Chief Member and Public Relations Officer at East River Electric Cooperative.
“The webinars, resources and personal communication BEL provided us at the outset of this brand-new federal program were invaluable in promoting this opportunity to remote rural school districts that otherwise would not have known this program existed,” said Chris Michalowski, Power Use Advisor at Mountain Parks Electric in Colorado.
About the Beneficial Electrification League
The Beneficial Electrification League is a not-for-profit organization bringing together a diverse group of organizations that support universal acceptance for beneficial electrification as a necessary strategy to meet economic, consumer and environmental goals. BEL is collaborating with cooperative and municipal utilities to provide streamlined education, support, and access to school districts seeking support in school bus electrification. Learn more at: Electric School Bus Initiative – Beneficial Electrification League (be-league.org)
CoBank is a $170 billion cooperative bank serving vital industries across rural America. The bank provides loans, leases, export financing and other financial services to agribusinesses and rural power, water and communications providers in all 50 states. The bank also provides wholesale loans and other financial services to affiliated Farm Credit associations serving more than 76,000 farmers, ranchers and other rural borrowers in 23 states around the country.
CoBank is a member of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of banks and retail lending associations chartered to support the borrowing needs of U.S. agriculture, rural infrastructure and rural communities. Headquartered outside Denver, Colorado, CoBank serves customers from regional banking centers across the U.S. and maintains an international representative office in Singapore.