Five school districts will soon be operating electric school buses after Thomas Built Buses delivered its “Jouley” Saf-T-Liner C2 vehicles to dealer Sonny Merryman during a rollout celebration.
“We are thrilled to lead the way in this groundbreaking initiative that is paving the way for a cleaner future and setting the bar for future electric vehicle conversions across the country,” said Caley Edgerly, Thomas Built Buses president and CEO. “We believe electric school buses to be the future of pupil transportation. They offer quieter operation, lower operating costs and zero emissions to the benefit of students, parents, school districts and local communities.”
Edgerly was joined on Tuesday by Dan Weekley, vice president of energy innovation policy and implementation for Dominion Energy, which is overseeing the project that will introduce at least 1,000 electric school buses across Virginia over the next five years. The event was streamed live on Facebook.
“Transportation is the number one source of carbon emissions in the U.S., and we’re committed to reducing it in our communities,” commented Weekley. “From the environmental benefits of cleaner air to the cost savings for school districts to making our electric grid stronger through energy storage technology, this program is a win-win-win for the customers and communities we serve.”
The Dominion Energy Electric School Bus Program, first announced in August 2019,
entered phase one of the project this week with the delivery of 50 electric buses over the next couple of months, with Thomas Built Buses selected as the initial vehicle manufacturer last December, with Proterra providing the electric vehicle technology with 220kWh of total energy capacity.
Thomas Buses said in a statement on Wednesday that it is currently the only school bus manufacturer to offer DC fast charging architecture as standard equipment. Ths bus can charge in about three hours and supply power back to the grid using vehicle to grid technology.
Once phase two of deploying the 1,000 buses is completed, Dominion Energy says the vehicle batteries could provide enough energy to power over 10,000 homes. The target for Phase three is to have 50 percent of all diesel bus replacements be electric by 2025 and 100 percent by 2030.
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Virginia Beach City Public Schools is one of the districts receiving the first shipment of buses.
“The Virginia Beach City Public Schools Office of Transportation and Fleet Management Services is anxiously awaiting the arrival of the eight electric Thomas Built Buses with the Proterra powertrain,” commented David Pace, the district’s executive director of transportation and fleet services. “This partnership with Dominion Energy and Sonny Merryman, Inc. to put environmentally sound school buses into our fleet fits perfectly with the VBCPS sustainability goals and program. We are looking forward to a continued relationship in the future to place more electric eco-friendly school buses into service. These buses will provide the children of Virginia Beach with a greener way to get to and from school.”
Other districts to receive buses this fall and winter are Alexandria City Public Schools, Fairfax County Public Schools, Pittsylvania County Schools, and Waynesboro City Public Schools.