LAKEVILLE, Minn. — Some students here will start riding an all-electric school bus this fall in a first-of-its-kind program in Minnesota.
The program is a collaboration between transportation provider Schmitty & Sons and electricity cooperatives Dakota Electric Association and Great River Energy. The goal is to demonstrate the technology of a battery-electric school bus in a cold-weather climate, as well as on longer suburban and rural routes.
“We’re also seeking to document the economics of the bus on our system and as part of Schmitty & Sons’ bus fleet, including overall operation and maintenance cost savings and the calculation of emissions reductions,” said David Ranallo, manager of member services and marketing at Great River Energy.
The program will deploy an all-electric eLion school bus manufactured by Canada-based Lion Electric Co. (formerly known as Lion Bus). The 72-passenger bus contains up to five batteries, reportedly giving it a range of 100 miles per charge. It can recharge overnight when electricity demand and cost are lower.
“We’ve looked at other fuel-alternative school buses but haven’t seen any additional advantages like we have with the eLion model,” said Bill Forbord, chief operating officer of Schmitty & Sons. “It’s a quiet, smooth ride and has the next generation of operational and safety features. It’s also very user-friendly for the driver.”
The three companies said they are using the program to educate the public on the value of electric technology.
“We are thrilled at the opportunity to bring this technology to our members,” said Jane Siebenaler, business account executive for Dakota Electric Association. “Because of this collaboration, we are able to strengthen a member relationship, pilot cutting-edge electric bus technology, and lay the foundation for what could be an excellent, energy-efficient school bus option.”