Three electric school buses joined the Loudoun County Public Schools fleet Tuesday afternoon during a ceremony at Sterling’s Park View High School — and two more are on the way.
“This is a really big day for us,” LCPS Assistant Superintendent for Support Services Kevin Lewis said. “It represents a huge step for us in our sustainability footprint.”
Richmond-based Dominion Energy selected LCPS to receive five electric school buses as part of the company’s Electric School Bus Program, which began last year.
Through the program’s first phase, Dominion resolved to deliver 50 electric buses to Virginia school systems at the price of traditional diesel buses, according to Virginia Business.
Other localities receiving electric buses during this stage include neighboring Fairfax and Prince William counties, as well as Alexandria City Public Schools.
Dominion reportedly hopes to deploy at least 1,000 additional buses by 2025, with approval pending from the state government.
Bristow-based bus company Sonny Merryman Inc. collaborated with Thomas Built Buses and Proterra, a California-based electric vehicle technology manufacturer, to create the new bus model presented on Tuesday: the Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley.
According to the Sonny Merryman website, each bus seats up to 81 passengers and runs on a Proterra battery that charges in two to three hours at a DC charging station, with each charge lasting up to 135 miles.
Eric Reynolds, Proterra’s senior director of channel sales, said the same battery technology has been used to power transit buses for a decade.
“The technology that is in this bus here is proven and safe, reliable for your students,” Reynolds said, though the safety features in the bus extend beyond the power source.
The seats come equipped with seatbelts, and the rearview mirror shows a digital display of the vehicle’s surroundings whenever the turn signal is activated, as demonstrated by LCPS Fleet Manager Mark Maggitti.
As for environmental impact, the buses are emissions- and fossil fuel-free — aiding the school system’s sustainability efforts as well as its transportation costs.
Dominion selected Loudoun to receive five electric school buses “because this is where they would do the most good in Dominion’s de-carbonization efforts,” according to LCPS Public Information Officer Wayde Byard.
“These five buses are the equivalent of carbon [offset] of more than 150 acres of trees,” Dan Weekley, Dominion’s vice president of energy innovation policy and implementation, said Tuesday. “You can see why we were so excited about these buses.”
Sonny Merryman Inc. President and CEO Floyd Merryman echoed Weekley’s excitement and said the remaining electric buses designated to LCPS are scheduled to be delivered this week.
“We can’t wait to see children riding on them … and we look forward to delivering a lot more of these in the future,” he said.
To wrap up the ceremony, Maggitti — with the help of six Park View students — plugged in LCPS Bus #2185 for its inaugural charge.