DETROIT — Two school districts here are set to receive state funding for a total of six electric school buses.
DTE Energy announced last week that it has secured $1.5 million in grant funding from the state of Michigan to purchase the Thomas Built Saf-T-Liner eC2 Jouley electric buses, powered by Proterra. Four will go to Ann Arbor Public Schools and two will be delivered to Roseville Community Schools, according to a news release from the company.
The funding is part of the state’s nearly $13 million share of Volkswagen settlement funds to purchase electric school buses and charging infrastructure, Dave Meeuwsen, interim executive director of the Michigan Association for Pupil Transportation (MAPT) and transportation director for Zeeland Public Schools, told School Bus Fleet.
“Our association established an electric school bus pilot program back in 2017, and now we’ve partnered with DTE Energy to help secure grant funding for electric buses,” Meeuwsen added. “The buses for Ann Arbor and Roseville are expected to be available sometime in the second half of the 2019-20 school year.”
DTE will work with both districts to ensure the associated charging infrastructure is constructed to support the project, according to the company. DTE also said that it will partner with the districts to implement a vehicle-to-grid study, which will allow the company to better understand the effects of battery storage technology.
"We're excited to help bring clean electric transportation to thousands of Michigan students," said Trevor F. Lauer, president and CEO of DTE Electric. "This partnership and grant fits well with our commitment to advancing both STEM education and Michigan's clean energy future."
Additionally, DTE has joined the MAPT in developing educational programs around the new electric buses. Students will see real-world applications of new innovations, such as the zero-emission electric technologies the buses employ, as part of their focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), according to DTE.
"This is a progressive step forward for our schools and aligns nicely with our existing sustainability goals in the Ann Arbor community," said Marios Demetrious, assistant superintendent for Ann Arbor Public Schools. "We are thrilled to lead Michigan in the deployment of the latest transit technology for schools."
John Kment, superintendent for Roseville Community Schools, also said that his district looks forward to implementing the new buses.
"Not only will [the electric buses] help us reduce our carbon footprint, but they will also serve as great educational opportunities for our students,” Kment said. “Our educators will use them to lead discussions on how we can all take steps to integrate cleaner energy into our daily lives."