Lopez Island School gets an electric school bus

Lopez Island School gets an electric school bus

Submitted by the Lopez Island Electric School Bus Team.

The Lopez Island School District (LISD) will begin the 2022-23 school year with a new electric school bus! The new electric school bus was purchased with a $325,000 grant from the Washington Department of Ecology that covers the cost difference between an all-electric bus and a comparable diesel bus.

LISD was one of 22 school districts in the state to receive funding for an electric school bus under the program. $50,000 of the grant combined with grants from an anonymous donor was used to install battery charging infrastructure. OPALCO generously donated substantial in-kind support in the form of a 225 kW transformer installed in return for the ability to use (pending the availability of suitable charging equipment) the bus infrastructure and charging as a learning platform for vehicle-to-grid (V2G) applications in which electricity can return to the grid when needed to increase electricity reliability and reduce wholesale utility costs electricity. LISD Superintendent Ed Murray said, “We are very grateful for OPALCO’s interest, participation and support. The charging infrastructure installed now has been carefully designed to enable the expansion of future electric school buses.

The electric bus replaces an aging diesel bus that has been fully depreciated from LISD’s transportation fund. Initially, the bus will be used for commuting, but as more charging stations are added across the continent, LISD hopes to take advantage of the bus’ fast-charging capability to use the bus for sporting events and day trips as far away as Seattle.

The proposal was submitted by the LISD Electric School Bus Team, led by Director of Transportation Teri Linneman and including community members Kurt Fuller, Denny Jardine, Brad Buchanan and former school board superintendent Chris Greacen. The team has been meeting since April 2019 to explore the costs of an electric school bus and research grant opportunities.

The school bus, manufactured by Thomas and fitted with a Proterra electric transmission, is expected to be delivered the last week of August. SJH Electric, contracted by Proterra Energy, installed the charging infrastructure designed to accommodate the expansion as the district converts more of its fleet from diesel to electric.

To combat climate change and improve public health, Washington is adopting innovative policies across all sectors of the economy to create clean energy jobs and shift from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. Although Washington ranks among the top states for electric vehicle sales, transportation remains our state’s largest source of air pollution, including greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. The continued electrification of our transportation systems will reduce air pollution, including greenhouse gases.

The grant funds come from a settlement with Volkswagen to settle allegations that the automaker cheated in emissions testing. Each state manages its own portion of the settlement funds. The Volkswagen Washington Settlement represents an unprecedented opportunity to make transformative improvements in Washington’s transportation industry. The Department of Ecology’s mitigation plan identifies electric school buses, transit buses and ferries, as well as electric vehicle charging infrastructure among key investment opportunities to reduce emissions that improve public and environmental/ocean health. The Departments of Commerce, Ecology and Transportation are coordinating to invest in zero-emission technologies for our public fleets and to expand our network of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. These investments will reduce harmful pollution, fight climate change and generate financial savings on fuel and maintenance costs. For more information: https://ecology.wa.gov/Air-Climate/Climate-change/Reducing-greenhouse-gases/Investing-in-cleaner-transportation

Lynn A. Saleh