On October 7, 2020, Hancock County Schools (HCS) celebrated the addition of two new propane-powered school buses to their fleet through a ribbon-cutting and “big check” presentation event. In late 2019, HCS applied for and won $50,000 towards their efforts to replace older diesel buses through the Tennessee’s “Reducing Diesel Emissions for a Healthier Tennessee” (RDE4HT) Rebate Program. The new propane buses were received in early October by WCS transportation staff and will start being used next week.
The RDE4HT Rebate Program is state EPA funding that the Tennessee Department of
Environment and Conservation (TDEC) manages and contracts with the East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition (ETCleanFuels) to operate and oversee. The Rebate Program releases a Request for Proposals in October each year and as of 2019 prioritizes funding for new alternative-fuel school buses over all other types of vehicles.
Several community leaders and project partners spoke at the event including:
HCS Director of Schools Charlotte Mullins, TN Representative Gary Hicks (District 9), HCS Transportation Supervisor Joseph Southern, Alliance AutoGas Representative Happy Fox, Central States Bus Sales East Tennessee
Representative Steve Nixon, ETCleanFuels Director Jonathan Overly.
Joseph Southern said, “With these funds, we have been able to grow our clean-fueled fleet and do our part to make a difference for our kids and our environment”.
Representative Hicks said, “There’s been plenty of bad news in recent times, so it’s wonderful to hear some good news. I can’t begin to thank all of those involved who are helping change lives in Hancock County.”
Overly noted, “Hancock County is one of 11 federally designated economically distressed counties in Tennessee, and it is our (ETCleanFuels’) and TDEC’s sincerest pleasure to assist our distressed communities in Tennessee. When we provide assistance where it may be needed most and simultaneously help improve air quality and develop partnerships to drive alt-fuel use, that is one of the best win-win scenarios you can find.”