For many school districts on tight budgets, bus service of any kind presents a challenge. Electrifying their fleets might seem like a fantasy that is even more out of reach, although making the transition could help them save money.
Districts in the state of Michigan have an opportunity to provide bus service to their students, cut costs and go green all at once.
In August, one of the state’s utilities, Consumers Energy, announced it is working with 11 school districts to help them transition to all-electric buses. The funding will provide for more than 50 buses.
Consumers Energy is the state’s largest energy provider, providing natural gas and electricity to 6.7 million residents in 68 counties.
The utility is helping school districts transition to all-electric bus fleets through its PowerMIFleet program, which provides expertise and financial rebates for chargers to businesses and organizations, like school districts, that are considering electric vehicles.
The program supports Level 2 and DC fast chargers. Eligible participants may receive rebates in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $70,000 per charger, depending on the type installed.
Consumers Energy will pay for, own and maintain all electric infrastructure from the transformer to the customer’s meter (TTM) infrastructure. The utility will also construct new or upgrade existing TTM infrastructure to ensure the customer’s site is ready to power up the new EV chargers.
The program is designed to help incentivize the transition to an all-electric fleet for organizations that are considering the change and may have received funding from other sources for the purchase of the electric vehicles. It can be coupled with state or federal grants that have been received for that purpose.
In the case of the Michigan school districts, federal grants were awarded for the purchase of electric buses.
In addition to getting kids to school on time and cutting emissions, the conversion is also a money saver. One of the first school districts in Michigan to make the transition, the Pellston School District, reduced its bus operating costs by $0.45 per mile and saved over $1,300 in the first four months, according to Consumers Energy.
The utility says it is also helping several other school districts to move to all-electric buses, including the Alcona, Au Gres-Sims, Beecher, Britton Deerfield, Cadillac, Jackson, Homer, Hopkins, Pentwater and Sand Creek districts.