RICHMOND, Va. — Power and energy company Dominion Energy has selected Thomas Built Buses to provide the buses for phase one of its electric school bus program in the state.
The school bus manufacturer will supply 50 of its Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley buses to the program. They will be purchased from Sonny Merryman, the state’s Thomas Built Buses dealer, and will begin operating within Dominion Energy’s Virginia service area by the end of 2020, Dominion said in an email.
The Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley is powered by Proterra electric vehicle technology and configured with 220 kilowatt-hour (kWh) of total energy capacity, a two-speed transmission and a Thomas Built Buses-estimated operating range of up to 134 miles, the school bus manufacturer said in a news release.
Jouley can charge in about three hours with the Proterra 60 kW DC fast-charging system, which Thomas offers as standard on the buses, and can supply power back to the power grid using vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology.
The buses will also be equipped with seat belts, according to Dominion.
Each locality in Dominion Energy’s Virginia service area is within one hour of a Sonny Merryman service center. The buses will also be covered by an extended battery warranty offered by the school bus manufacturer and Proterra. The most comprehensive electric school bus battery warranty offered to date, according to Dominion, the warranty will cover the life of the vehicle, which is expected to be 15 years.
“We are excited to take this major step forward to bring electric school buses to the customers and communities we serve across Virginia,” said Mark Webb, senior vice president and chief innovation officer for Dominion Energy. “This innovative partnership with the transportation industry is key to reducing our carbon footprint. The implementation of this program will provide a number of benefits, including cleaner air for our children, enhanced grid reliability through additional battery storage, and cost savings for school districts.”
Dominion also said that it plans to announce the school districts selected for phase one of the project in the coming weeks.
The program represents the largest deployment of electric school buses in the U.S., according to the school bus manufacturer.
“We are thrilled to lead the way in this ground-breaking initiative that is paving the way for a cleaner future and setting the bar for future electric vehicle conversions across the country,” said Caley Edgerly, president and CEO of Thomas Built Buses. “We believe electric school buses to be the future of pupil transportation. They offer quieter operation, lower operating costs and zero emissions to the benefit of students, parents, school districts, and local communities.”
The school bus manufacturer offers electrical infrastructure project management and a comprehensive turnkey solution for electric vehicle (EV) integration through its Electric Bus Authority program, working one-on-one with customers through the entire EV planning and implementation process.
As previously reported, Dominion proposed the electric school bus program, with the goals of reducing emissions, providing cost savings to school districts, and enhancing vehicle-to-grid reliability, in September.
With state approval, phase two of the project would expand the program to bring 1,000 electric school buses to the area by 2025. Once phase two is fully implemented, the bus's batteries could provide enough energy to power more than 10,000 homes, Dominion reported in September. Phase three would set the goal of having 50% of all diesel school bus replacements be electric by 2025 and 100% by 2030.