Largest Electric School Bus Program In United States Launching In Virginia

Air Quality

Published on January 12th, 2020 | by Cynthia Shahan

January 12th, 2020 by  

Dominion Energy has partnered with local Virginia school districts to begin replacing diesel buses with 100% electric school buses in phases. No phase can come too soon, so CleanTechnica wishes all school districts a rapid rollout after the initial 50 launch the program. Children are more sensitive to air pollution than adults, and it hurts them and their studies.

Thomas Built Buses Inc (TBB) has been selected as the provider of all 50 of the initial electric school buses. These buses are supposed to go into operation this year. This will already be the largest deployment of electric school buses in the United States. After 2020, Dominion Energy will add 200 electric school buses per year for the next 5 years, with the goal being to reach a 50% electric bus fleet — 1,000 electric school buses — by 2025. The aim is to reach 100% electric school buses by 2030.

Air quality inside the buses is reportedly 6× better than in non-EV buses.

New Vehicle-to-Grid Technology

The benefits of the buses go beyond clean transportation and greatly reduced pollution. The buses can be used as batteries for the grid or for electricity use off the grid as well. Dominion Energy shares, “When not in use, they can be tapped as an energy resource through vehicle-to-grid technology. If energy needs are high or if renewable resources are intermittent, the batteries can provide stability to the grid. During a power outage or emergency, the batteries could serve as mobile power stations.”

1,050 electric buses could provide enough energy to power 10,000+ homes.

Increased Safety

Going another step further, the electric buses provide more child and driver safety than previous buses. “Electric buses are quiet, allowing for better communication between drivers and students,” Dominion Energy adds. “Every bus is equipped with a seatbelt for each student.”

Cutting Maintenance Costs

As everyone who has had an electric car knows, electric vehicles require very little maintenance. They don’t need oil changes or muffler fixes, and they’re unlikely to need new brakes before you’re done with the vehicle. Here’s a list of more specific benefits from Dominion:

  • Reduce operation & maintenance costs for schools by 60%
  • Lower cost + Less maintenance
  • Equivalent of 17 MPG compared to 6 MPG for diesel
  • Charging stations & infrastructure provided at no cost to school
  • One bus reduces C02 emissions by 54,000 pounds each year
  • 50 buses reduces emissions by 2.7 million pounds
  • Replacing 1,050 buses over 5 years with new electric ones will reduce emissions by 810 million pounds, the equivalent to taking 78,000 cars off the road!
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TBB’s all-electric Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley provides better vehicle quality, durability, performance, safety, and comfort. Beyond bing sustainable, the investment in all-electric buses will provide the school system with financial savings.

It is nice to see major companies like this providing long-term transit solutions. “Jouley is powered by Proterra® electric vehicle technology and configured with 220 kWh of total energy capacity, a two-speed transmission and a TBB-estimated operating range of up to 134 miles. TBB is the only school bus manufacturer to offer DC fast charging architecture as standard equipment. Jouley can charge in about three hours with the Proterra 60kW DC fast charging system and can supply power back to the power grid using vehicle to grid (V2G) technology.”

“TBB offers electrical infrastructure project management and a comprehensive turnkey solution for EV integration. Known as the Electric Bus Authority Program, Thomas Built Buses works one-on-one with customers through the entire EV planning and implementation process.”

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It is my belief that electric school buses are the top priority and  accomplishment for electric vehicle technology. Many, such as the Sierra Club, believe school buses to be the most necessary transportation solution, along with mass-transit options. There is simply no other community that needs electric transit, zero emissions, and carbon neutral transit more. We need to protect our child’s daily breath, and the future of their lives.

Listen to the student educators who know emission-free transit is the only way forward for their generation.

Proterra CEO Ryan Popple agrees, “Electric school buses remain one of the best applications for electric vehicle technology. The all-electric Jouley incorporates Proterra’s highest standards of battery safety and validation along with industry-leading onboard energy storage for electric school bus fleets.”

For more information on converting to electric school buses, visit Thomas Built’s Electric Bus Authority Program. For more information on Dominion Energy’s electric school bus program, visit

Featured image: Proterra Jouley Electric School Bus, courtesy Proterra

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About the Author

Cynthia Shahan started writing by doing research as a social cultural and sometimes medical anthropology thinker. She studied and practiced both Waldorf education, and Montessori education. Eventually becoming an organic farmer, licensed AP, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings born with spiritual insights and ethics beyond this world. (She was able to advance more in this way led by her children.)