GreenPower Motor Company Inc. a leading manufacturer and distributor of zero-emission, electric-powered, medium and heavy-duty vehicles, today announced the launch of its West Virginia state pilot project to demonstrate all-electric school buses in school transportation operations across West Virginia starting with Cabell, Kanawha and Mercer Counties. The first buses in each County will be deployed this week bringing school children safely to their school without contamination from NOx emissions.
Through the pilot project done in cooperation with Governor Jim Justice, the West Virignia Department of Economic Development and the West Virginia Department of Education, three all-electric GreenPower Type D BEAST school buses will be deployed the week of September 5th in the first three counties – Cabell, Kanawha and Mercer – along with the required charging infrastructure. In the coming weeks, a fourth pilot bus using the Type A Nano BEAST with ADA capabilities will be deployed in Clay County.
“West Virginia is a perfect location for the first true pilot project of all-electric, purpose-built, zero-emission school buses,” said Fraser Atkinson, CEO of GreenPower. “The terrain, weather conditions and the combination of rural and urban settings will give a real-life demonstration of the school buses’ capabilities. The only way for school districts to become comfortable with the new technology is through hands-on experience.”
In June, Gov. Jim Justice directed his Secretary of Economic Development Mitch Carmichael to work with GreenPower to develop a pilot project to provide real-world testing of the vehicles in areas of the state, both rural and urban, and to understand the opportunities and challenges associated with using all-electric school buses to provide safe, reliable, cost-effective school transportation.
“Governor Justice’s forward thinking in directing this pilot is another effort by him and his administration to become an all-of-the-above energy state,” Atkinson continued. “GreenPower appreciates his efforts along with his staff at Education and Economic Development in making this possible.”
Each county will test the electric buses for a six-week period and then each all-electric school bus will move to a different county to demonstrate the buses in different parts of the state. The data collected by the pilot project will not only be beneficial to West Virginia, but also to schools across the nation. As one of the only true real-world all-electric school bus pilots, the data will help school districts understand more about EV school buses as they look to deploy them in their fleets on a permanent basis.
Among some of the data that will be collected is: range, charging infrastructure needs, handling and maneuverability, operating and maintenance savings, student and parent acceptance and more. The data will help with the anxiety of change as districts look to create a new beginning of a clean school day.
“Our school district is always searching for new, innovative ways to serve our students and communities,” says Dr. Ryan Saxe, Cabell County Schools Superintendent. “We are honored to have been chosen to participate in the state’s electric school bus pilot program. West Virginia has long been a dominant force in the energy economy, and, as new technologies are adopted, we want to do everything we can to support that continued leadership far into the future. Electric school buses like the ones utilized for this pilot program will soon be manufactured right here in West Virginia. No one can do it better, and I cannot wait to see the multitude of benefits this investment will yield for the deserving people of the Mountain State.”
“Kanawha County Schools is proud to be one of three West Virginia counties participating in this GreenPower pilot project and we look forward to seeing what an electric school bus could do for our district and students,” said, Dr. Tom Williams, superintendent at Kanawha County Schools.
“Mercer County Schools is excited to be part of the GreenPower Pilot project. We are proud that Mercer County will be one of the first counties in West Virginia to utilize an electric bus in our fleet to provide valuable feedback to the program,” said Edward T. Toman, superintendent at Mercer County Schools.
There are 55 public school districts in the state of West Virginia. According to the most recent School Bus Fleet Fact Book there are approximately 2,900 school buses in operation in the state transporting approximately 220,000 K-12 public students daily representing 75% of the total students enrolled making it the 10th highest school rate in the nation. The school buses today consist only of traditional propulsion systems and presently there are no electric school buses in operation in the state.