Earlier in the year, we were pleased to announce that the Garretson School District was selected for a $1.2 million grant to purchase up to three electric school busses and the purchase and install charging infrastructure for those vehicles. A number of people have asked why we would proceed with the electric busses, and expressed skepticism about whether this is a good thing for our district.
We have spent a significant amount of time over the course of the school year talking with experts, reading about different options and just generally learning about electric vehicles to determine if we should proceed with just part of the grant award or to move forward with the full grant.
Over the course of the past year, we have found that in districts that use the electric busses, there is significant savings in not only fuel costs, but also in maintenance costs associated with running diesel busses. Some studies indicate that the cost of fuel and maintenance on a diesel bus runs close to 49 cents per mile, while the electric busses have a fuel and maintenance cost of approximately 14 cents per mile. Comparisons of electric equivalent “miles per gallon” also tell a positive story, with our average diesel bus getting between 5 and 6 miles per gallon. The estimated electric equivalent “miles per gallon” costs point to approximately 28 MPG. While this is likely the MPG under “ideal” conditions, we are certain that the cost of operation and maintenance on our fleet with be dramatically reduced, thereby having a positive impact on our General Fund.
Right now, we are considering whether to move forward with two electric busses or three. The answer to that will depend, in part, on some of the ancillary costs associated with purchase and installation of charging infrastructure as well as changes to property and liability insurance costs. Our intent is to present this information to the board on April 10. The board will then make a decision as to how we proceed. We are excited to be on the front end of the electric vehicle revolution in SD. It’s even better when the Federal Government, rather than local taxpayers are footing the bill!