The Garretson School District has been notified that we are one of only a few school districts in the State of South Dakota to be selected as the recipient of a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency for the purchase of up to three electric school busses and the associated charging infrastructure. Business Manager Jacob Schweitzer had the idea for writing the grant and its potential positive impact on the district.
We have much to learn in a short time about electric school busses before we make a recommendation for the purchase of one of these busses. At this point, we believe we will likely take advantage of the program to purchase two electric school busses, which would allow us to keep two spare diesel powered busses in the fleet for use as needed.
Electric school busses typically have a maximum range of between 120 and 130 miles. One of our concerns is that with the harsh South Dakota winters, we know that the range of the electric busses will be reduced. We will need to determine how much the range decreases to see if they are appropriate for use on those very cold South Dakota days in January and February. If we determine that those busses are not appropriate in extreme cold, we plan to use those spare busses on those days to ensure that all of our students get to school safely.
We are excited to be on the front end of this potential change. The district should see substantial savings in the operational costs using these busses. A typical diesel school bus gets between 6 and 7 miles per gallon. The equivalent use of electric vehicles (based on cost of fuel) is approximately 24 mpg. The costs of maintenance *(think oil changes) is also significantly reduced. Stay tuned for more news as we move forward with the project!