Powered by Cummins PowerDrive system, the Blue Bird electric bus for Bartholomew Consolidated...

Powered by Cummins PowerDrive system, the Blue Bird electric bus for Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. is reportedly the first vehicle-to-grid capable bus in Indiana.

Photo courtesy Blue Bird

Columbus, Ind.-based Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. (BCSC) has received one Blue Bird electric school bus as part of its sustainability and cost-saving efforts.

BCSC purchased the electric bus, along with the corresponding charging infrastructure, using subsidies from Indiana’s Volkswagen (VW) Mitigation Trust Fund, according to a news release from Blue Bird.

As School Bus Fleet previously reported, in August 2019, Indiana released over $3 million in its first round of VW funds for new school buses. BCSC was one of four school districts included in the round that were granted a total of $1.26 million to support the purchase of one electric school bus.

“BCSC is committed to being an environmentally responsible member of the community,” said Dr. Brett Boezeman, the district's director of operations. “The addition of electric buses to the BCSC fleet will further support other alternative energy exploration and carbon footprint reduction efforts.”

Powered by Cummins PowerDrive 7000EV battery-electric powertrain, the Blue Bird electric bus is apparently the first vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capable bus in Indiana, according to the school bus manufacturer.

To further optimize the electric bus implementation, Cummins and Duke Energy have partnered with BCSC to study vehicle energy consumption and charging requirements. The study, according to Blue Bird, will help aid in selecting routes the bus is used on, the charging schedule and the effects on battery life, electricity consumption compared to peak rate/times, and total cost of ownership. The energy consumption study will also provide a blueprint of the impact of a broader fleet adoption and what investments and total cost of ownership will look like for future fleet purchases.

“Cummins is excited to have BCSC and our community benefit from adding this electric bus into their fleet,” said Jeff Seger, general manager for powertrain at Cummins. “With Cummins headquartered in Columbus, we’re proud to see the role our innovation plays in helping push our community forward.”

The electrification project for BCSC also includes the addition of updating lighting fixtures across 21 of the district's buildings with high-efficiency LED bulbs and solar energy panels on the rooftops of two buildings, intending to reduce energy consumption by 40%, according to Blue Bird.

“The data gathered from the Bartholomew project will be valuable to continuing to improve electric bus products as we continue to innovate and improve this rapidly evolving market,” said Trevor Rudderham, senior vice president of electrification at Blue Bird. “With hundreds of our electric buses currently on the road, we have already seen great strides in technology advancements for electric within the past year, and hope to see more of these buses operating in Columbus in the near future.”

In response to a significant boost in sales and growing interest from pupil transporters, Blue Bird announced in September that it was ramping up its electric bus production capacity to 1,000 units annually to meet the anticipated growth in demand.