GreenPower Motor Company Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of zero-emission, electric-powered, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, is launching a West Virginia state pilot project to demonstrate all-electric school buses in school transportation operations across the state starting with Cabell, Kanawha and Mercer counties.
Through the pilot project done in cooperation with Governor Jim Justice, the West Virignia Department of Economic Development and the West Virginia Department of Education, three all-electric GreenPower Type D Beast school buses were deployed the week of Sept. 5 in the three counties along with the required charging infrastructure. In the coming weeks, a fourth pilot bus using the Type A Nano Beast with ADA capabilities will be deployed in Clay County.
In June, Gov. Jim Justice directed his Secretary of Economic Development Mitch Carmichael to work with GreenPower to develop a pilot project to provide real-world testing of the vehicles in areas of the state, both rural and urban, and to understand the opportunities and challenges associated with using all-electric school buses to provide safe, reliable, cost-effective school transportation.
Each county will test the electric buses for a six-week period and then each all-electric school bus will move to a different county to demonstrate the buses in different parts of the state. The data will help school districts understand more about EV school buses as they look to deploy them in their fleets on a permanent basis. Some of the data to be collected are range, charging infrastructure needs, handling and maneuverability, operating and maintenance savings and student and parent acceptance.
There are 55 public school districts in the state of West Virginia. According to the most recent School Bus Fleet Fact Book, there are approximately 2,900 school buses in operation in the state transporting approximately 220,000 K-12 public students daily. This represents 75% of the total students enrolled, making it the 10th highest school rate in the nation. The school buses today consist only of traditional propulsion systems and presently there are no electric school buses in operation in the state.