West Virginia state law provides a financial incentive for schools to fuel their bus fleets with alternative fuels. Under the state school aid formula, counties receive about 85 cents for every dollar in transportation costs. By switching to alternative fuels like biodiesel blends or compressed natural gas [CNG], the reimbursement increases to 95 cents.
At this writing information for the 2004-05 year was unavailable. During the 2003-04 year, three of West Virginia’s 55 counties used alternative fuels in their school bus fleets. Two districts, Marion and Monongalia, were using 20 percent biodiesel blends in 100% of their buses. The other, Wood, used CNG in a few of their buses.
The additional allowance provided under the state aid funding formula was $70,509 for Marion, $105,420 for Monongalia and $1,384 for Wood. The education department is encouraging all school transportation directors to switch to biodiesel blends.
Full Text of the Relevant West Virginia Education Finance Provisions Related to Alternative Fuels
§18-9A-7. Foundation allowance for transportation cost.
Theallowance in the foundation school program for each county for transportation shall be the sum of the following computations:
(1)Eighty-five percent of the transportation cost within each high-density county and ninety percent of the transportation cost within each low-density county for maintenance, operation and related costs, exclusive of all salaries: Provided, That for any county that uses an alternative fuel such as compressed natural gas or other acceptable alternative fuel for the operation of all or any portion of its school bus system, the allowance in the foundation school program for the county for that portion of its school bus system shall be ninety-five percent of the transportation cost for maintenance, operation and related costs, exclusive of all salaries, incurred by the use of the alternatively fueled school buses: Provided, however, That any county using an alternative fuel and qualifying for the additional allowance shall submit a plan regarding the intended future use of alternatively fueled school buses;
(2) The total cost, within each county, of insurance premiums on buses, buildings and equipment used in transportation: Provided, That the premiums were procured through competitive bidding;
(3) An amount equal to eight and one-third percent of the current replacement value of the bus fleet within each county as determined by the state board. The amount shall only be used for the replacement of buses. Buses purchased after the first day of July, one thousand nine hundred ninety-nine, that are driven one hundred eighty thousand miles, regardless of year model, will be subject to the replacement value of eight and one-third percent as determined by the state board: Provided, That for the school year beginning on the first day of July, two thousand four, only, the allowance in the foundation school program for each county for transportation shall not include an amount for the replacement of buses. In addition, in any school year in which its net enrollment increases when compared to the net enrollment the year immediately preceding, a school district may apply to the state superintendent for funding for an additional bus. The state superintendent shall make a decision regarding each application based upon an analysis of the individual school district’s net enrollment history and transportation needs: Provided, however, That the superintendent shall not consider any application which fails to document that the county has applied for federal funding for additional buses. If the state superintendent finds that a need exists, a request for funding shall be included in the budget request submitted by the state board for the upcoming fiscal year;
(4) Eighty-five percent of the cost of contracted transportation services and public utility transportation within each high-density county and ninety percent of the cost of contracted transportation services and public utility transportation within each low-density county;
(5) Aid in lieu of transportation equal to the state average amount per pupil for each pupil receiving the aid within each county; and
(6)Ninety-five percent of the transportation cost for maintenance, operation and related costs, exclusive of all salaries, for transporting students to and from classes at a multicounty vocational center
The total state share for this purpose shall be the sum of the county shares: Provided, That no county shall receive an allowance which is greater than one-third above the computed state average allowance per transportation mile multiplied by the total transportation mileage in the county: Provided, however, That one half of one percent of the transportation allowance distributed to each county shall be for the purpose of trips related to academic classroom curriculum and not related to any extracurricular activity: Provided further, That for the school year beginning on the first day of July, two thousand four, only the transportation allowance of each county shall include an allocation for the purpose of trips related to academic classroom curriculum and not related to any extracurricular activity. The allocation shall equal the amount distributed to the county for this purpose in the school year beginning on the first day of July, two thousand three: And provided further, That any remaining funds credited to a county for the purpose of trips related to academic classroom curriculum during the fiscal year shall be carried over for use in the same manner the next fiscal year and shall be separate and apart from, and in addition to, the appropriation for the next fiscal year: And provided further, That the state board may request a county to document the use of funds for trips related to academic classroom curriculum if the board determines that it is necessary.
- The Energetics of Ethanol: An Introduction and Link to Studies – How much energy does it take to make a gallon of ethanol? Make up your own mind by looking at the studies themselves!
- Cellulosic Biofuels: Another Opportunity for Washington to Marry Agriculture and Energy Goals – by David Morris, published in Ethanol Today Magazine, May 2008
- Ethanol and Land Use Changes
This February 2008 policy brief criticizes the authors of two recent studies published in Science for advancing a conclusion not supported by their own studies. The paper notes that the vast majority of today’s ethanol production comes from corn cultivated on land that has been in corn production for generations. Since little new land has come into production, either directly or indirectly, the current use of ethanol clearly reduces greenhouse gas emissions.(View Press Release)
- Scale & Ownership of Renewable Energy – a presentation by John Farrell at the Local Energy Initiatives Forum in Cloquet, MN on September 13, 2007
- Wind and Ethanol: Economies and Diseconomies of Scale – This August 2007 report finds that there are indeed small cost reductions from very large scale, absentee owned renewable energy facilities. But that these are overshadowed by the significant loss in potential economic benefits from locally owned and more modestly scaled facilities.
- Give Ethanol a Chance: The Case for Corn-Based Fuel – by David Morris, published on AlterNet, June 13, 2007
- Energizing Rural America: Local Ownership of Renewable Energy Production is the Key
This January 2007 paper by David Morris was originally published by the Center for American Progress. This report argues that Congress must recognize the dramatic benefits of clean, renewable energy on rural communities and then ensure that the federal farm bill policies work to maximize local ownership of the rapidly expanding biofuels and wind energy industries. Numerous policy options are recommended.
- Making Cellulosic Ethanol Happen: Good and Not So Good Public Policy – This January 2007 report provides an analysis of federal policies that are both good and bad related to creating a viable cellulosic ethanol industry based on two building blocks: 1) Commercial technologies that produce ethanol from cellulose and 2) A cultivation, transportation and storage infrastructure that delivers cellulose to biorefineries
- By the People, For the People: Toward a community-owned, decentralized biofuel future – by David Morris published in Grist, December 8, 2006
- The Strange Legislative History of the Cellulosic Ethanol Mandate – by David Morris, in RenewableEnergyAccess.com, December 4, 2006
- Ethanol as a Renewable Fuel: An Overview – video of a speech by David Morris, ILSR Vice President, presented at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Air Quality Series, September 28, 2006 (streaming video, 1.5 hours)
- Putting the Pieces Together: Commercializing Cellulosic Ethanol – September 2006
A report examining federal policies supporting cellulosic ethanol production and advocating that the Federal government adopt strategies that support farmer-owned biorefineries. [see also ILSR Press Release]
- The New Ethanol Future Demands a New Public Policy – by David Morris, June 21, 2006 [this is an expanded version of an opionion column published in the NY Times – also in PDF]
- The Once and Future Carbohydrate Economy – by David Morris, published in the American Prospect magazine, March 2006
- Ownership Matters: Three Steps to Ensure a Biofuels Industry That Truly Benefits Rural America
This February 2006 paper by David Morris was adapted from a speech given at the Minnesota Ag Expo 2006. The paper provides a snapshot of today’s biofuels industry and a roadmap to ensure that local farmers see significant benefits from the expanding industry in the future.
- How Much Energy Does It Take to Make A Gallon of Ethanol?– Institute for Local Self-Reliance, August 1995