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West Virginia Launches All-Electric School Bus Pilot Program

Data collected from the program will be shared with many US school districts considering EV school buses

The State of West Virginia and GreenPower Motor Company have announced the launch of a state pilot project to demonstrate all-electric school buses.

Children in Cabell, Kanawha, and Mercer Counties will be the first to ride on one of three zero-emissions buses when the program begins this week.

“West Virginia is a perfect location for the first true pilot project of all-electric, purpose-built, zero-emission school buses,” said Fraser Atkinson, CEO of GreenPower. “The terrain, weather conditions and the combination of rural and urban settings will give a real-life demonstration of the school buses’ capabilities. The only way for school districts to become comfortable with the new technology is through hands-on experience.”

Each participating county will use GreenPower’s Type D BEAST school buses for six weeks, then the buses will move to other counties to demonstrate their effectiveness in various parts of the state.

This launch represents one of only a handful of real-world electric vehicle school bus pilot programs in the U.S. GreenPower says the data produced will be shared with other districts throughout the country that are considering deploying EV school buses.

Range, charging infrastructure needs, handling, maneuverability, and operating costs are among some of the data to be collected and evaluated.

Gov. Jim Justice commissioned the pilot program in June to better understand the opportunities and challenges associated with making the switch to EV school buses.

“Governor Justice’s forward thinking in directing this pilot is another effort by him and his administration to become an all-of-the-above energy state,” Atkinson said. “GreenPower appreciates his efforts along with his staff at Education and Economic Development in making this possible.”

The 40-foot-long BEAST buses have a range of 140 miles, 91 person seating capacity, and a width of 102 inches, which the manufacturer says is the widest in the industry.

“Our school district is always searching for new, innovative ways to serve our students and communities,” says Dr. Ryan Saxe, Cabell County Schools Superintendent. “We are honored to have been chosen to participate in the state’s electric school bus pilot program. West Virginia has long been a dominant force in the energy economy, and, as new technologies are adopted, we want to do everything we can to support that continued leadership far into the future.”

The Clean School Bus Program — passed in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law — provides $5 billion over five years to replace gas-powered school buses with EV models. GreenPower’s buses are eligible for rebates between $285,000 and $375,000.

“Moms across West Virginia are excited to support zero-tailpipe-pollution electric school buses right here in the Mountain State,” said Lucia Valentine, West Virginia field consultant for Moms Clean Air Force. “The transportation sector is one of the leading sources of climate pollution and West Virginia is one of the most at-risk states for climate related flood disasters.”

GreenPower’s facility in South Charleston is expected to bring 200 new jobs to the state within the next 12 months and as many as 900 clean-energy jobs once the company reaches full production.

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