Loudoun County Public Schools unveiled its first set of electric buses with a plugging-in ceremony at Park View High School Tuesday afternoon.
The school system’s first five electric school buses are part of a program led by Dominion Energy, which has partnered with Sonny Merryman and Thomas Built Buses for manufacturing, and Proterra to provide the batteries for the Jouley buses. Representatives from the school division and those four companies, as well as six students, were on hand for the ceremony.
The buses feature zero emissions, with one bus equivalent to removing 5.2 cars from the road each year; five-times cleaner air inside; a quieter cabin for better communication between bus drivers and students; and an operating range of 134 miles, which will “easily cover” a typical daily bus route, according to a statement from Dominion. The batteries get their power from 60kW plug-in DC charging stations and take two to three hours to reach capacity.
The school system is paying the same amount for each bus it has for diesel buses in the past, with Dominion offsetting the additional costs. Overall, the new electric buses are expected to be 60% less expensive to operate and maintain.
At the plugging-in ceremony this week, Sonny Merryman President and CEO Floyd Merryman said the technology has allowed the company to enter a new era.
“We look forward to delivering a lot more of these in the future,” he said.
Proterra Senior Director of Channel Sales Eric Reynolds said the buses are proven, safe and reliable, and noted that it won’t be long before the 500th and 5,000th electric buses are delivered.
Dominion Vice President of Innovation Policy & Implementation Dan Weekley said the buses are quieter and cleaner than their diesel ancestors, and urged students to use the three-point lap and shoulder seatbelts in the buses. He said Dominion has been focused on decarbonization for a several years and that its carbon avoidance program has equaled the planting of 150 acres of trees.