Tucson Unified School District students will soon ride to school in 10 new electric school buses thanks to TEP and a federal grant that’s helping schools take part in a cleaner energy future.

Tucson Electric Power worked closely with district officials for more than a year, providing technical assistance and other support for its successful application for an Environmental Protection Agency grant. TEP also committed to providing funding for charging infrastructure and supplementing the grant to ensure that TUSD pays no more than the cost of conventional buses for its new electric models.

The zero-emission vehicles will contribute to cleaner air for everyone while providing other potential benefits to our community and our local energy grid.

“We are working with the district to determine how to feed energy from the bus batteries back onto the grid during summer peak periods when schools are out of service, and customer usage is high,” said Gabriella Abou-Zeid, TEP Program Manager for Beneficial Electrification.

“We’re proud of our role in supporting a key educational institution in transitioning their bus fleet to help improve air quality, reduce lifetime maintenance costs and support the grid for broader system-wide benefits,” said Camila Martins-Bekat, TEP’s Principal for Beneficial Electrification.

The district cannot confirm when or how soon the school buses will be running and have not finalized agreements or formalized contracts as they continue working with stakeholders to understand the scope of work.

They’re just the latest highlight from our longstanding partnership with TUSD, which won a TEP Go Green Award in 2023 for its work toward energy conservation and a brighter future.

TEP also has been working for years to promote cleaner transit by supporting the electrification of Sun Tran’s bus fleet, powering Tucson’s electric streetcar and donating zero-emission electric shuttles for use in the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area.

TUSD representatives said they were excited to receive the award. “We are working in partnership with Tucson Electric Power (TEP) to finalize the logistics and move forward with the program,” said Karla Escamilla, Director of Communications & Media Relations for TUSD.  “This is an amazing opportunity that will benefit our district, students, families, and the Tucson community.”

TEP is working to simplify and accelerate EV adoption under a transportation electrification plan approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission.

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