A Kentucky Clean Fuels Coalition team received the first Visionary Leadership Award from the Southeast Diesel Collaborative Group for its work providing hybrid school buses to the state.
Eaton Corp. and the Kentucky Department of Education were part of the coalition team that received the award.
Southeast Diesel Collaborative Group is part of the EPA’s National Clean Diesel Campaign to reduce pollution emitted from diesel engines. Southeast Diesel created the Visionary Leadership award to recognize projects that exemplify extraordinary leadership and serve as a role model for others to follow.
The Kentucky Clean Fuels Coalition team provides hybrid school buses to the state of Kentucky under a $12 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Eaton assembles the hybrid system, including the clutch, electric motor, battery and six-speed automated transmission, at its facility in Kings Mountain, N.C.
Officials said Kentucky has a fleet of 162 hybrid school buses, all of which contain Eaton hybrid systems. Another six hybrid buses are on order.
They also said that the hybrid buses, on average, are 34% more fuel efficient than traditional diesel-powered models. In some cases, fuel consumption has been cut in half, depending on driving cycles and styles. The buses, which are used in a wide range of school districts across Kentucky, are typically driven 10,000 to 15,000 miles per year and have a 14-year life.
“Working with Eaton on this project has been one of the best partnerships we’ve ever had,” said Melissa Howell, executive director of the Kentucky Clean Fuels Coalition. “The thing I love most is how the project has educated so many people — both adults and students — on the importance of hybrid vehicle technologies and the renewable energy industry.”
“We are honored to receive this award,” added Thomas Clark, a territorial service manager for Eaton’s Vehicle Group. “The program is a great opportunity for Eaton to work with like-minded organizations. Our group’s success with the Kentucky hybrid school bus program is a major step toward the continued development, advancement and acceptance of hybrid systems to help improve fuel economy and reduce emissions.”
As part of Kentucky’s hybrid bus program, Eaton offers special training for participating drivers, mechanics and first responders. It also provides a technical overview for local communities.
For the next phase, Kentucky Clean Fuels Coalition has created a K-12 curriculum about hybrid-electric technology. The goal of the program, which officials said launches this fall, is to better engage local students with onsite energy experts, and allow teachers to use the information for science and math classes.
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