TOWNSHEND – A local group wants to deeply explore replacing school buses with electric ones.
“Our proposal tonight is to ask the school board to develop a task force that makes recommendations to the superintendent about the electric school buses,” said Paul Paytas of West River Valley 100 Percent Renewable, a Townshend resident who formerly taught and coached at Leland & Gray Union Middle and High School, said at the West River Education District Board meeting late last month. “The task force will be able to access information, financial information that is not really at our disposal how to invest in electric buses, what would be the upfront cost for the district, what would be the timeframe to recoup that money based on current conditions. . “
School districts in northern Vermont and elsewhere in the US already have electric buses, said Mike McAssey of the West River Valley 100 Percent Renewable, a Newfane resident. WRED includes schools in Jamaica, Newfane and Townshend.
West River Valley 100 Percent Renewable is looking to promote renewable energy projects within the West River Valley. In addition to electric vehicles, its focus is on switching to solar and more efficient heating and cooling systems.
Paytas said 152 people signed a petition supporting the task force.
“We know the transition period will take time,” he said, noting the district has a private contract with a transportation provider with diesel buses.
Greg Frost, director of operations, said West River Transportation owns 11 buses and the district’s routes require five or six of them at a time of year depending on the location and location of students on the routes. The company also provides bussing for Wardsboro Elementary School, which is part of the River Valleys Unified School District.
Grants are being eyed to help with the transition to electric buses. Vermont Energy Investment Corporation provided $ 4 million in support for districts that have made the switch, McAssey said.
His group’s research indicates the life expectancy of electric buses will last about 10 years, the same as diesel. With the necessary infrastructure, the electric buses cost about $ 400,000 each, compared with about $ 110,000 for diesel buses.
McAssey suggested the possibility of partnering with other districts on the project. His group’s website is westrivervalley100.org.