Thursday, September 29, 2022

The Electric Ride: WJCC Among First in State to Add Electric School Buses to Transportation Fleet

WJCC Schools, Dominion Energy and Sonny Merryman, supplier of Jouley eletric school bus, hosted a plug-in ceremony back on June 9. (Courtesy of Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools)

WJCC PUBLIC SCHOOLS — It’s electric. Four new buses, that is. Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools (WJCC) has added new electric buses to its 160-piece transportation fleet during a “plug-in” ceremony on June 9.

WJCC Schools, Dominion Energy and Sonny Merryman, the Jouley, an electric school bus supplier, hosted the ceremony at the division’s operations and transportation headquarters on Jolly Pond Road.

The division became one of the first among 15 localities in the state to receive electric school buses through Dominion Energy Virginia’s Electric School Bus Deployment Program. The grant received through the program covered the cost of four buses and the installation of the electric plug-in station at the transportation headquarters, according to WJCC spokesperson Eileen Cox.

“This is a very special day for our schools,” Dr. Olwen Herron, WJCC Superintendent, said in a statement from a June 9 news release, “Adding these buses to our fleet is a demonstration of our commitment to environmental stewardship, fiscal responsibility and the safety and well-being of our students, staff and community.”

The electric school buses come with many benefits, including reduced emissions, cost savings and enhanced grid reliability through vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology.

According to Dominion Energy, replacing one diesel bus with a zero emissions electric bus is the equivalent of taking 5.2 cars off the road each year. The interior air quality is also five times better than that of a diesel bus.

The new buses have more safety features than the diesel buses, too, including reduced noise. The quite motor allows better communication between drivers and students. When the buses slow at a school or bus stop, a warning sound engages to alert pedestrians that a vehicle is approaching.

With the use of these buses, there is also a little something in for the community, too. When the buses are not needed for school, the bus batteries can provide a power reserve to store energy and supply it back onto the grid during peak times.

Cox added there was potential for the division to apply for another grant or to purchase more electric buses at a later date. “We want to watch saving and compare the cost of running the diesel buses, but that would be our plan,” she said.

The four electric buses will begin service this summer for students participating in summer enrichment programs. To learn more about Dominion Energy Virginia’s electric school bus deployment program, click here.

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