School bus dealer Sonny Merryman aims to have 224 total Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouleys on Virginia roads by the end of this school year.  -  Source: Thomas Built Buses

School bus dealer Sonny Merryman aims to have 224 total Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouleys on Virginia roads by the end of this school year.

Source: Thomas Built Buses

Dominion Energy’s Electric School Bus (ESB) Program, in collaboration with school bus manufacturer Thomas Built Buses, and Sonny Merryman, one of Virginia’s leading bus dealers, has achieved a significant milestone by exceeding 1.5 million electric miles driven in the state of Virginia.

Launched in September 2019, the program has become the largest utility-led electric school bus initiative in the United States, with a fleet of more than 135 electric school buses currently operating across 25 districts in Virginia. Fairfax alone has one of the largest electric school bus fleets in the nation.

“At Dominion Energy, we’re not only reducing our own carbon emissions, we’re also helping our customers reduce theirs,” said Adam Birdsong, manager of customer energy solutions for Dominion Energy. “Our program has helped school districts overcome technical and financial hurdles of electric school bus adoption while improving air quality, protecting the health of our children and hardening the grid.”

“The shift from diesel to electric school buses demands a collective effort and robust partnerships,” said Whitney Kopanko, director of marketing and school bus sales, Sonny Merryman. “Dominion Energy’s visionary program goes beyond providing financial support; it forges partnerships in training, utility engagement, service and maintenance and other program components crucial for this journey.”

Dominion Energy’s program elevated Virginia to fifth in the nation for the number of electric school buses committed. Sonny Merryman aims to have 224 total Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley units delivered by the end of the 2023-24 school year. Through this program, state and federal funding has been maximized, further accelerating growth within the industry.

The environmental impact of this initiative is expected to be substantial. Dominion-supported electric school buses have prevented a total of 1,632 short tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; 2,520 pounds of carbon monoxide (CO); and 4,342 pounds of nitrogen oxide (NOx), according to the AFLEET tool by the Department of Energy and Argonne National Lab. This means better air quality and positive health impacts for students and bus drivers.

“We’re proud of the success that Dominion Energy’s Electric School Bus Program has achieved in Virginia as they spearhead utility-led conversion in America,” said Mark Childers, powertrain and technology sales manager for Thomas Built Buses. “This incredible milestone showcases the impact of collaboration in our industry, and we are looking forward to continued success in advancing sustainable and efficient transportation for school districts across the state.”

Dominion Energy has pioneered the safe and thoughtful deployment of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology. This capability, which allows electric school bus batteries to act as mobile energy sources when demands are high to help stabilize the grid, is expected to soft launch in summer 2024. Dominion Energy also has supported several school districts in their applications for the 2023 EPA Clean School Bus Program and plans to continue this support in the coming year.

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