'It's Electric' — and so is new school bus serving Lakeville students this fall

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'It's Electric' — and so is new school bus serving Lakeville students this fall

July 30, 2017

The first-ever electric bus is coming to schools in Lakeville this fall.

The 72-passenger bus may look like any regular school bus, but it comes without the carbon footprint and the fumes. The wind-powered bus is part of a collaboration between the Dakota Electric Association, Schmitty & Sons and Great River Energy.

The idea started with Dakota Electric, which connected with Great River Energy about bringing the electric bus to Minnesota this year. They then collaborated with Schmitty & Sons, a school bus company that has a contract with Lakeville Area Public Schools.

Schmitty & Sons approached the school district earlier this summer about including the bus in its fleet.

“We have been working with electric vehicles and thought we would take it to the next step with electric school buses,” said Therese LaCanne, spokeswoman for Great River Energy.

A three-way split

The three partners are splitting the price of the bus, which costs three times more than an average school bus. A regular diesel-fueled school bus can cost as much as $125,000.

The savings comes later. This bus will save about $12,000 a year on maintenance and operating costs, said Joe Miller, Dakota Electric Association spokesman.

“This electric school bus is ten years ahead of a diesel school bus,” Miller said.

The bus will run regularly scheduled routes in the Lakeville district and serve three different schools: an elementary, middle and high school. The schools have not been identified yet.

Mike Forbord, who works in divisional operations for Schmitty & Sons, said the bus will not need to be charged until the end of the day.

The electric bus runs on five batteries, giving it a range of 100 miles. The range of a regular diesel-fueled bus route is about 66 miles.

Instead of traditional brakes, the electric bus will use “regenerative” brakes that allow energy from the brakes to go back into charging the batteries each time the bus stops.

“It runs like a big golf cart,” Miller said. “You step on the gas and you go.”

SOURCE:  Star Tribune

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