Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) in Maryland has approved a contract with Highland Electric Transportation, a provider of turnkey electric fleet solutions, to convert its school bus fleet to all-electric, starting with 326 school buses over the next four years. This project is said to be the largest single procurement to date of electric school buses in North America.
Montgomery County Public Schools operates some 200 schools, and operates a fleet of over 1,400 school buses.
Highland and its project partners, including Thomas Built Buses, Proterra, and Annapolis-based American Bus, will electrify all five of MCPS’s bus depots, and will supply the electric school buses along with managed charging services. Highland will purchase buses manufactured in North Carolina by Thomas Built Buses, which will be supplied and serviced by American Bus.
Thomas’s electric Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley school bus is powered by Proterra’s EV platform. The Jouley couples 226 kWh of total energy capacity with a Proterra Powered drivetrain to deliver a range of up to 135 miles.
The project was awarded an $817,000 grant from Maryland Energy Association to help offset the purchase cost of the vehicles.
“I figured that at some point electric bus prices would fall enough to make it affordable, but this deal makes it affordable now,” said Todd Watkins, Transportation Director for MCPS.
“We believe this project is a great example of the power of public-private partnerships as we seek to electrify school bus fleets across the country,” said Duncan McIntyre, CEO of Highland.
The project also includes a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) component—the new e-buses will lend their batteries to deliver stored electricity to the local energy markets, interconnected through local utility Pepco. Highland will manage the V2G system, which is expected to reduce the cost of ownership for MCPS.
“This is the first step toward meeting President Biden’s pledge to electrify all 500,000 school buses across the nation over the next decade,” said Nat Kreamer, CEO of Advanced Energy Economy. “These school buses do double duty, providing pollution-free transportation for schoolchildren and grid services that benefit all electric customers, while also being available as mobile backup for communities affected by power outages.”