Highland Electric Fleets, provider of fleet electrification-as-a-service, and Peak to Peak Charter School, a leading charter school in the Boulder Valley School District in Colorado, have partnered to launch a small fleet of electric buses to serve the students attending the school.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis spoke at the official launch event to recognize Colorado's first all-electric school bus fleet. Under his leadership, Colorado enacted SB 193, allocating $65 million for electric school buses in the state and accelerating the transition to cleaner, healthier transportation for Colorado's students, drivers, and communities.
"This is another exciting step toward Colorado's clean energy future, better air quality, and increased savings for Colorado schools," said Gov. Polis. "More and more schools are transitioning to electric buses to reduce costs so that money that would have gone to diesel fuel can instead go to better teacher pay and smaller class size."
Peak to Peak Charter School engaged with Highland as an affordable solution to provide transportation for student athletics and activities. Highland is providing the school with full-service fleet electrification that includes financing and comprehensive services for a fixed annual fee over ten years with an option for a five-year extension. This enabled Peak to Peak to avoid the high upfront cost of purchasing electric buses (typically $350,000 each), and to provide clean, reliable transportation for its students at a manageable price.
"Without the expertise of Highland Electric Fleets, Peak to Peak would not have been able to build an electric bus fleet from the ground up," said Sam Todd, executive director of operations at Peak to Peak Charter School. "Their knowledge of this new electric bus frontier and available grants make the program affordable. It is a dream come true for our school and our students."
Highland partnered with McCandless Truck Center to provide IC Bus and Collins/Lightning electric buses, and will manage the electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and infrastructure installed over the past summer on the Peak to Peak campus. Highland also assisted in training the school's new bus drivers and will cover bus and charger maintenance and electricity costs through a full-service agreement with the school.
"Delivering a first-of-its-kind project in the state of Colorado through our innovative public-private partnership makes clean and reliable electric school buses available for less than a diesel bus fleet," said Richard DiMatteo, executive vice president of Highland and head of the company's second headquarters in Denver. "As the largest all-electric school bus fleet in the state, we now have clear proof that electrification is not a future pipe dream but the smarter, more affordable option today. With high fuel prices and maintenance costs for diesel buses, now is the best time to upgrade, providing Colorado residents with the air quality the state deserves."
Prior to 2020, Peak to Peak had been using Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) buses for student transportation needs. During the pandemic, the bus driver shortage compounded transportation issues. BVSD had to make difficult decisions about managing staff and resources. Unfortunately, this meant Peak to Peak could no longer rent buses for field trips, athletics, and student activities. The district needed to find an affordable solution to ensure consistent and reliable transportation and couldn't undertake a complex infrastructure project on its own.
"Highland managed the entire project, remained within our budget, and provided the needed infrastructure and the electric buses," said Todd. "This fall, we are pleased to provide this new opportunity for our students and families. It will make our extracurricular programming more accessible to a broad range of students. In addition, we can now be less dependent on our parent/guardian community for extracurricular transportation."