Federal money putting an electric school bus in McDowell County and more in other county school systems was among the funding awards announced Monday from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, announced Monday that EPA funding awards for a variety of programs in West Virginia, including funding made available through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA.

McDowell County Schools was awarded $365,000 in EPA Clean School Bus Program funding, according to a statement released Monday by Capito’s office. Summers County Schools will receive $365,000 and Calhoun County Schools will get $345,000 under the EPA Clean School Bus Program. A $730,000 EPA Clean School Bus Program grant was awarded to Randolph County Schools.

McDowell County Transportation Director Adam Grygiel said the new electric bus the EPA grant is funding could arrive late this year, but it will most likely arrive in the county next year.

In January 2023, an electric school bus started running a route in McDowell County for students at Mount View High School and Kimball Elementary School. After this pilot program, which took place during the COVID pandemic, was finished, the school system applied for an EPA grant to acquire one of the electric buses.

This new bus coming to McDowell County will be able to carry 78 passengers. How this electric school bus is used on the county’s routes will depend on the mileage it can get when its batteries are fully charged, Grygiel said.

“So it’s going to be trial and error on the first month, second month to see what route it will be feasible on,” he said.

The electric bus used during last year’s pilot program had some pros and cons, Grygiel said. This trial run was conducted during the winter, and the colder weather impacted the mileage the bus’s batteries could deliver, but it could do better during warmer weather. And the students liked to ride in it.

“I think it’s going to help students realize it’s their future,” he said. “They will enjoy it because it’s a lot quieter than a diesel. The kids really enjoyed the pilot bus.”

The county school system’s electric bus will be manufactured by Thomas Built Buses, Grygiel said. If the new electric bus works out, the school system could seek funding for more.