Thomas Built Buses is beginning delivery of its electric school buses in Virginia and marked the...

Thomas Built Buses is beginning delivery of its electric school buses in Virginia and marked the occasion at dealer Sonny Merryman's headquarters. Shown from left: Caley Edgerly, president and CEO of Thomas Built Buses; Dr. Jeff Cassell, superintendent of Waynesboro City Public Schools; Floyd Merryman, president and CEO of Sonny Merryman; Eric Reynolds, senior director of channel sales at Proterra; and Dan Weekley, vice president of energy innovation policy and implementation at Dominion Energy.

Photo courtesy Daimler Trucks North America

Thomas Built Buses teamed up with its Virginia school bus dealer, power company Dominion Energy, and electric vehicle technology supplier Proterra to mark on Wednesday the delivery of the first electric school buses in the state.

The partners celebrated the arrival of the first Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley battery-electric school buses to be received by Virginia school districts under phase one of Dominion Energy’s Electric School Bus Initiative.

The event took place in Evington, Va., at dealer Sonny Merryman’s headquarters. Guests in attendance included representatives from the Virginia Association of Pupil Transportation, Virginia Clean Cities, and the Virginia Department of Education, along with several public officials, according to Sonny Merryman’s website.

As School Bus Fleet previously reported, in December 2019, Dominion Energy selected Thomas Built Buses as the sole provider of the electric school buses allocated for the initial phase of its electric school bus program, which aims to support Virginia school divisions as they transition their school bus fleets from diesel to electric.

Delivery of the total of 50 buses to the 16 selected school divisions will begin in early November. School divisions that will soon receive the electric school buses include Waynesboro Public Schools, Pittsylvania County Schools, Fairfax County Public Schools, and Alexandria City Public Schools. The remainder of the first 50 buses in phase one of the Dominion Energy Electric School Bus Program will be delivered throughout the fall and winter months, including to Virginia Beach City Public Schools, according to Sonny Merryman.

“Virginia Beach City Public Schools [VBCPS] is anxiously awaiting the arrival of the eight electric Thomas Built Buses with the Proterra powertrain,” said David Pace, executive director of transportation and fleet services for the district. “This partnership with Dominion Energy and Sonny Merryman to integrate environmentally sound school buses into our fleet fits perfectly with the VBCPS sustainability goals and program. We are looking forward to a continued relationship in the future to place more electric eco-friendly school buses into service. These buses will provide the children of Virginia Beach with a greener way to get to and from school.”

The program will also allow Dominion Energy to explore the battery storage capabilities of electric school buses to provide reliability-related services on the electric grid.

This is the largest planned deployment of electric school buses in the U.S., according to a news release from Daimler Trucks North America, the parent company of Thomas Built Buses.

“Electric school buses provide 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," said Dan Weekley, vice president of innovation policy and development for Dominion Energy. “We’re excited to see these buses start to arrive in the Commonwealth and we look forward to working with school districts across Virginia to get this new technology on the roads.”

“Our team has always prided ourselves as innovation leaders in pupil transportation,” said Floyd Merryman, president and CEO of Sonny Merryman. “Dominion’s initiative is especially exciting not just for us but also for Virginia’s students and our many loyal partners across the Commonwealth’s public education community.”

The unveiling of Virginia’s first electric school buses builds on additional recent deployments of Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley electric school buses across the U.S., including deliveries in Alaska, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Michigan.

“We are thrilled to pave the way for a cleaner future for the children in Virginia,” said Caley Edgerly, president and CEO of Thomas Built Buses. “We believe electric school buses to be the future of pupil transportation and with quieter operation, lower operating costs and zero emissions, Virginia school districts should quickly realize the cost and societal benefits of this school bus fleet conversion.”

The Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley is powered by Proterra electric vehicle technology and is configured with 220 kWh of total energy capacity, a two-speed transmission, and an estimated operating range of up to 135 miles.Thomas Built Buses also provides DC fast-charging architecture as standard equipment. Jouley can charge in about three hours and can supply power back to the power grid using vehicle to grid (V2G) technology.

“Battery-electric school buses offer a safe and reliable mode of transportation that improves air quality and protects the health of our students and communities,” said Jack Allen, CEO of Proterra. “Now, thanks to the leadership of Dominion Energy, we’re excited to go even further by showing how embracing electric school buses can also strengthen the electricity grid.”

Thomas Built Buses and Proterra offer electrical infrastructure project management and a comprehensive turnkey solution for EV integration. Known as the Electric Bus Authority program, the school bus manufacturer works one-on-one with customers through the entire electric vehicle planning and implementation process.

Learn more about Dominion Energy’s Electric School Bus Initiative.

About the author
Nicole Schlosser

Nicole Schlosser

Former Executive Editor

Nicole was an editor and writer for School Bus Fleet. She previously worked as an editor and writer for Metro Magazine, School Bus Fleet's sister publication.

View Bio