Grants offer eco-friendly fuel for buses

Licking Heights School District is powering its buses with a fuel that provides cleaner air for students, thanks to a state grant.

Now Ohio is looking to dole out an additional $250,000 in grants to fund the use of soy biodiesel in state school buses.

Since July, Licking Heights has powered its 44 buses with soy biodiesel fuel. The district is one of 21 school districts who have benefited from the Biodiesel School Bus Grant Program.

"We’re trying to cut down the amount of fumes around students," transportation supervisor Johnny Morrison said.

Burning about 400 gallons of fuel per day – 72,000 per year – the district used the grant it received from the state program in July to offset the costs of the soy biodiesel fuel, which generally runs about 10 cents more per gallon than petroleum diesel fuel.

Because a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel is used to run the buses, it saved the district money at a time when budgets are getting tighter.

"We’re buying less diesel fuel, 20 percent less," Morrison said.

Use of the blend also prevents the fuel from "geling" in the winter – something that happens to diesel fuel when it falls below 0 degrees, Morrison said.

"There’s also no mechanical changes needed to the buses that run the biodiesel," he said.

The grant program is administered by the Ohio Department of Development and promoted through the Ohio Soybean Council’s Clean Air for Kids program.
Schools that did not take advantage of funding from the first round are encouraged to apply for the second round of funding.

To be considered for grant funding and download an application, administrators can visit

School districts are eligible for a maximum of $25,000, and grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis within four weeks of approval. Applicants will be required to provide information about their fleets, refueling practices and estimates of how much B20 soy biodiesel will be used. Grants will be paid on a reimbursement basis, and the deadline to apply is May 31, 2009.

For more information, visit

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