Oak Harbor (Wash.) Public Schools secured a Volkswagen settlement grant to purchase its first...

Oak Harbor (Wash.) Public Schools secured a Volkswagen settlement grant to purchase its first electric school bus. Shown here is Francis Bagarella, the district’s transportation director, and Cathi Gutierrez, the district's assistant transportation director.

Photo courtesy Oak Harbor Public Schools

Oak Harbor (Wash.) Public Schools has added its first electric school bus to its fleet.

The school district purchased the electric bus after securing a $302,685 Volkswagen (VW) settlement grant from the Washington Department of Ecology, according to a news release posted on the district’s website. The district reportedly paid the remaining balance of the bus after the grant, which was approximately $85,886, as well as the cost of a charging station, which totaled to about $17,000, according to Oak Harbor Public Schools.

In April, the state earmarked $12 million of its total $112.7 million share of VW funds to purchase 40 electric school buses for 22 school districts, according to a news release from the Washington Department of Ecology. The state’s VW grants are intended to help school districts replace aging diesel buses and help cover the additional costs of purchasing an electric bus and the corresponding charging infrastructure.

Since 2010, Oak Harbor Public Schools has added several environmentally-friendly school buses to its fleet, including 14 propane-powered buses. The district’s remaining 39 buses are either fueled by diesel or gas, according to the district.

“The propane buses have an incredible performance with low maintenance and the costs speak for themselves,” Francis Bagarella, the transportation director for Oak Harbor Public Schools, said in the district’s news release. “The electric bus should offer even more savings to the district, and as the technology evolves, the price for the buses should decrease as well, which will allow us to purchase more of them in the future.”

While the district's savings with the electric bus will accrue over time, Bagarella said he is excited about the possibility.

The electric bus for Oak Harbor Public Schools can reportedly travel up to 100 miles on a full charge, and for the time being, is not equipped for athletic or field trips. The bus replaced one of Oak Harbor's diesel-fueled buses from 1998, according to the district.

As School Bus Fleet previously reported, in June 2019, Franklin Pierce Schools in Tacoma, Wash., received the state’s first electric school bus. The district was awarded two grants, one totaling $330,155 to purchase the electric bus and another in the amount of $65,858 to install a 20-kilowatt (kW) solar electricity generation system. The grants were provided by TransAlta’s Centralia Coal Transition Grants Energy Technology Board with guidance from ATS Automatic Building Solutions.

About the author
Sadiah Thompson

Sadiah Thompson

Assistant Editor

Sadiah Thompson is an assistant editor at School Bus Fleet magazine.

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