Sixteen school divisions within Dominion Energy's Virginia service area will receive a total of 50 electric school buses by the end of 2020. Photo courtesy Dominion Energy

Sixteen school divisions within Dominion Energy's Virginia service area will receive a total of 50 electric school buses by the end of 2020. Photo courtesy Dominion Energy

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia-based power and electric company Dominion Energy announced on Thursday the recipients for the first phase of its electric school bus program in the state.

Sixteen school divisions within Dominion Energy's Virginia service area will receive the buses by the end of 2020, according to a news release from Dominion Energy. As School Bus Fleet previously reported, in December, Dominion Energy selected Thomas Built Buses to supply 50 of its Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley buses to the program. Powered by Proterra electric vehicle technology, the Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley is 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 electric school buses will also serve as a power grid resource by creating additional energy storage technology to support the company's integration of distributed renewables such as solar and wind, according to the power and electric company. The vehicle-to-grid technology leverages the bus batteries to store and inject energy onto the grid during periods of high demand when the buses are not needed to transport students. Additionally, the buses can provide environmental and health benefits through reduced emissions and reduce operation and maintenance costs for schools by up to 60%, according to Dominion.

"We are excited to move forward with our commitment to bringing the benefits of electric school buses to the customers and communities we serve," said Thomas F. Farrell II, Dominion’s energy chairman, president, and CEO. "This is an innovative, sustainable solution that will help the environment, protect children's health, make the electric grid stronger, and free up money for our schools."

This initial deployment will bring electric school buses to each of the company's operating regions. The school divisions that were selected for phase one of the program were chosen based on the benefit the batteries would bring to the electric grid.

Those school divisions are:

•    Alexandria City Public Schools
•    Arlington Public Schools
•    Charles City County Public Schools
•    Chesapeake City Public Schools
•    Chesterfield County School District
•    Fairfax County Public Schools
•    Hampton City Schools
•    Louisa County Public Schools
•    Middlesex County Public Schools
•    Norfolk Public Schools
•    Pittsylvania County Schools
•    Powhatan County Public Schools
•    Prince William County Public Schools
•    Richmond Public Schools
•    Virginia Beach City Public Schools
•    Waynesboro Public Schools

This first phase is part of a larger initiative from Dominion Energy to replace diesel-powered buses with electric buses. With state approval, phase two of the project would expand the program to bring at least 1,000 electric school buses to the area by 2025, according to Dominion. 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 in Dominion’s service area be electric by 2025 and 100% by 2030.

As SBF reported on Thursday, a bill proposed by Virginia Delegate Mark Keam would establish a grant program to help schools to replace their diesel buses with electric buses by 2030 and would help recipients share information about their experiences with the alternative-fuel vehicles.

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