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EV School Buses for Penfield

by Katie Rygg

Why Electric School Buses?

Diesel Buses are bad for kids’ health and the health of our drivers.

Burning diesel produces NOx (a far more potent GHG than CO2), PM2.5, & PM10 (EPA). The newest buses have reduced, but not eliminated these co-pollutants. Many of our buses are not these "clean diesel" models.

Exposure to these air pollutants leads to increases in asthma, cancer, and heart disease.

We must act now to reduce our emissions.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns of a narrowing window of time to act to avert the worst of the future climate crises.

Diesel buses get 4-10mi/gal. EVSBs would run on 70%+ renewable electricity. And if we are able to adopt Community Choice Aggregation for Penfield, we would be 100% renewable! We should electrify everything we can with our clean grid!

Other Benefits of EVSBs

  • Significantly lower maintenance costs and longer lifespans (20 moving parts vs 2,000+ in a diesel engine)

  • EVSBs are quieter and therefore safer

  • Utility companies are piloting Grid-to-Vehicle (G2V) Technology: the bus is a mobile battery for support of the electric grid during peak energy usage in the summer months. Check out this pilot project in White Plains, NY with Con Ed.

  • Setting the right example for our children

Revenue Neutral Options Exist!

The purchase price of EVSBs is 3-4x the diesel counterpart and related infrastructure are challenging for school districts, but not an insurmountable barrier. The number of possible paths forward are increasing.

Turn Key Companies…

  • Guarantee zero increase in transportation costs despite the utility upgrades, charger installation, and sticker price of EVSBs

  • Interface with RG&E

  • Absorb the risk: assuming charging and mechanical responsibilities

  • Brand agnostic

Beverly, MA: 1st EVSB carried students to and from school on 11/17/20. The 2nd will arrive this summer.

Montgomery, MD: This is one of the largest school districts in the country. At the end of February, they committed to transition 1,422 buses to EV by 2035. The first 25 arrive this fall. Then 61, 120, and 120 in subsequent years.

  1. Offer to pay for charging infrastructure

  2. Charge school districts $1.40 for every mile driven

Other options:

NY Senate Bill S5268: Allows for Reimbursement of School Districts for the Purchase or Lease of Electric School Buses

Sponsored by: Timothy Kennedy (NY-63). March 1, 2021.

Status: In Education Committee. No Assembly version yet.

Reimbursement for purchased, leased, or contracted buses:

  • 10% for districts that receive 20-35% of revenue from state aid

  • 15% for districts that receive 35-60% of revenue from state aid

  • 20% for districts that receive 60-90% of revenue from state aid

Keep an eye on the climate package that the Biden administration and Congress will be passing in the coming months. Here’s one of the proposals from Democrats in the House. Also, side note: policies involving EVs (in general) enjoy bipartisan support.

"CLEAN Future Act"

The new measure offers a grab bag of new grant and spending programs. They include funding for renewable energy and resilience projects at public facilities, an EPA grant program to decarbonize ports, $2.5 billion for EPA's clean school bus program to help put zero-emissions buses on the road, and a $500 million annual reauthorization for the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act.

Our Hope

We want the school district to plan and build the new bus garage with aggressive emission reduction goals

1. Buses

  • Penfield purchases 6-8 new buses each year. After a first year pilot program, we want all of these to be electric.

  • Consider the Urban/Suburban program buses for early adoption.

  • Consider Minotaur-style buses for early adoption - students on these smaller buses tend to ride longer. Also, these buses are less expensive.

2. Bus Garage

  • All electric, no gas hook-up

  • Air or ground source heat pumps for HVAC and electric hot water

  • Built to stretch code building efficiency standards (will be base-line standard building code in NY by 2023)

  • Solar canopies over buses, solar panels on the roof

3. Contact RG&E within the next few weeks to start planning

  • Depending on the design, there could be a 12-18 month lead time to install the necessary electrical infrastructure. As of last fall, bus manufacturers (including Thomas Built) needed 12 months to deliver the bus as well.

How Can Color Penfield Green Help?


Smart Grid Innovation Programs. RG&E/Avangrid

  • This should be an early call in the planning process

  • Utilities are looking for projects, per the direct request of Avangrid. Perhaps Penfield can help them with a G2V study

  • NY released millions of dollars to utility companies to fund upgrades - up to the chargers.

Greater Rochester Clean Cities

  • Clean Cities is a Department of Energy, federal program tasked with educating communities about fleet electrification. One deliverable option is coaching. The coordinator has offered to coach Penfield Central School District on every aspect of transitioning the EVSB fleet.

Regional Transit Service

  • RTS rolled out their first 10 EV Transit Buses fall 2020. Those involved are willing to share lessons learned with the Penfield Central School District.

MIT Alum for Climate Action

  • The MIT Alum for Climate Action network is designing a program for school districts to use to optimally match EVSBs with routes and charging.

Thomas Built Buses. Avon, NY

  • An EV demonstration bus is on its way. We can see it at the Avon facility and/or it can come to Penfield for various events. EV Car Show!

The PHS Environmental Club

  • EVSBs are on the PHS Environmental Club’s draft Sustainability Action Plan.

  • Members have lobbied town, county, state, and federal legislators on climate policy.

Want to join the EVSBs for Penfield team?


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