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District Wins Competitive Grant for First Electric Bus

The grant, funded through the Regional Air Quality Council’s (RAQC) ALT Fuels Colorado program, aims to improve Colorado’s air quality by incentivizing the replacement of pre-2009 vehicles with fully electric and Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) fleet vehicles. LPEA will contribute an additional $120,000 to cover electric charging infrastructure and bus costs.

Durango School District 9-R was one of only eight grant awardees out of 38 total applicants. The 81-seat bus is expected to be operational by the fall of 2021.

“This new eBus will be a great addition to our fleet for getting around in town,” said Durango School District 9-R Transportation Coordinator Daniel Blythe. “We were excited to work on this proposal with LPEA and to ultimately win the RAQC grant for the bus as it is a great opportunity for the district to integrate electric vehicles into the system and to continue to explore ways to reduce our carbon footprint.”

Beyond environmental benefits, the electric bus will bring tangible health benefits to the students who ride the bus. Roughly 95 percent of America’s school buses run on diesel and emit tailpipe pollution linked to asthma attacks, respiratory illness, and cancer. Electric buses do not emit any exhaust, thereby eliminating this health concern.

The bus will also be the first vehicle-to-grid installation in LPEA’s service territory. Also known as bi-directional charging, this will allow the bus to pull electricity from the grid to charge during inexpensive off-peak hours. It will also allow LPEA to pull electricity from the vehicle onto the grid during critical times. 

“This is a really cutting-edge project, not just for this area but for the whole state,” said LPEA CEO Jessica Matlock. “Vehicle-to-grid installations are the future because they enable our grid to operate with a higher degree of flexibility. This will equate to big cost savings by allowing LPEA to avoid the purchase of expensive on-peak power, while aligning the charging of the bus with times of less expensive renewable generation. This project delivers financial, social, and environmental benefits to our community, and we’re grateful to Durango School District 9-R for their interest and collaboration.”

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