- Two Minnesota power cooperatives partnered with a school bus manufacturer in Canada to send children to school in an electric bus, one of less than 100 currently operating in North America, according to a press release emailed to Utility Dive.
- Great River Energy and Dakota Electric Association say the project will test electric school bus performance in cold weather climates and on longer suburban and rural routes.
- The eLion bus, manufactured in Quebec by Lion Electric Co., is powered 100% by electricity, seats 72 passengers and has a range of 100 miles per charge.
The average school bus route is about 66 miles, according to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, meaning the eLion bus should have more than enough range for its daily travels. It is currently on tour throughout the state, but the project officially launches this Friday, say officials.
While electric vehicles are slowly taking hold, NRECA notes that school buses "represent a significant opportunity for reducing carbon emissions through electrification of the transportation sector – and in rural areas, they are one of the best opportunities."
Cooperatives serve more than 8,000 of the United States' 13,325 school districts, meaning partnerships like Great River and Dakota Electric's could provide a model going forward.
According to Midwest Energy News, the bus will cost $325,000 — about three times the typical cost of a school bus. However, it costs about $1,000 less per month to operate and has no carbon emissions.
While the bus is a rarity, interest in electric school busses is growing — Massachusetts last year awarded grants to four schools to develop carbon-free transportation programs.