UniteGPS – The clean energy revolution is coming to West Virginia following the announcement of a new GreenPower electric school bus plant in South Charleston. On top of reserving $15 million worth of units from the Canadian company, state officials agreed to lease and purchase a property to build the facility.

Clean energy is coming to West Virginia

Both entities released a joint statement explaining that the factory will be an 80,000 square foot building on 9.5 acres. Over time as production increases, the new manufacturing plant will create up to 900 new jobs in West Virginia. With pre-existing operations in California, this is also GreenPower’s first electric school bus plant east of the Mississippi River.

Sources predict that this location will oversee between $40 and $50 million in sales of electric and zero-emission vehicles, propelling West Virginia to new heights in the national drive for clean energy. In sum, the state could very well become an industry leader. 

“West Virginia is ideally positioned to lead the nation in transitioning to the electrification of the transportation network, battery research and development, and environmentally sustainable vehicles,” said GreenPower Chairman and CEO Fraser Atkinson.

Benefits of the electric school bus plant

Similar to New York’s pledge for clean energy, central to this initiative is improving air quality for adolescents in close daily contact with harmful emissions from diesel-powered buses out on the road. Children are among the most vulnerable demographic when it comes to potential respiratory issues from such pollutants.

“For K to 6 children, it does affect the development of their lungs,” said Atkinson. “It lasts for the rest of their lives and impacts their health. We’re not talking about just lung cancer, but other respiratory illnesses such as asthma.”

Around 25 million children ride more than 500,000 school buses a day in the United States, according to a 2019 study from Georgia State University that examined school buses’ diesel emissions. Certain study participants correlated direct contact with air pollution to adverse effects on children’s health and academic performance.

Comparatively, Atkinson from GreenPower contends that student performance and overall demeanor can improve with electric school buses.

“Anecdotally, evidence is, and you can see it when kids arrive at school, they’re more alert, not as tired and that means they’re better situated for a learning experience than if they got off diesel-emitting school buses as they have every day for years and years,” said the CEO.

Today, 14 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation industries, equating to approximately eight million annual tons of carbon dioxide As communities purchase over 40,000 new school buses yearly, experts estimate that diesel could be replaced over the next decade if school districts only restocked on electric going forward.