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Three school districts in the Sacramento capital region received a total of 29 zero-emissions electric school buses for a pilot program funded by a $7.5 million grant and additional state cap-and-trade funds.

California had to first clear a legal hurdle with its one-of-a-kind, cap-and-trade fund.  An appeals court ruled last month that the program requiring companies to purchase permits for emitting levels of greenhouse gases does not constitute an unconstitutional tax and could proceed.  It’s the largest single deployment of electric school buses nationwide.  Canada currently is operating about 60 electric school buses in Quebec.

Timothy Shannon, director of transportation for Twin Rivers, explained that the cumulative project began two years ago following a meeting of his local peers to discuss alternative fuel paths.  The result was the consortium of the three districts and a 300 page grant proposal.  Twin Rivers, Elk Grove and Sacramento City competed with 30 other districts statewide and were chosen the winners.

Shannon agreed that the incremental cost of purchasing new electric buses (retail of $225,00o each) can be a hardship for districts nationwide, and that is with or without grant money.  But the upside can no longer be ignored.  He stated that their grant is for a couple of years and provides free electricity and that nationwide electricity is a regulated fuel, unlike petroleum fuels that fluctuate.  Shannon said the local electricity company is fully funding the school bus charging infrastructure and is providing service of 1,400 KW.  The electric company has already installed three large transformers on site.

“We’ll eventually have enough power to grid that it will offset any energy costs that the buses need.  So basically it will be a zero-fuel charge”, stated Shannon.

The future in school buses is here!

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