Magazine article District Administration

Yellow School Buses Turn Green

Magazine article District Administration

Yellow School Buses Turn Green

Article excerpt

HYBRID SCHOOL BUSES MAY NOT be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of an innovative public district, but that is starting to change, due to the new Plug-In Hybrid Electric School Bus Project of Advanced Energy, a nonprofit corporation that creates environmental, economic and societal benefits through market-based approaches to energy.

"The School District of Manatee County in Bradenton, Fla., purchased the first two of the program's 19 hybrid buses for $225,000 each on March 9 as a member of Advanced Energy's buyers' consortium of school districts, state energy agencies and student transportation providers, making it the first district in the country to operate hybrid school buses. (It was the first district in AE's buyers' consortium to submit a purchase request.)

AE first brought environmental groups, school bus manufacturers, K12 district maintenance personnel, and hybrid systems integrators together in 2001 for a series of meetings to discuss the possibility of a hybrid bus project for K12 schools, says spokesperson Sharon Gladwell. After technical and business feasibility studies determined it would be a worthwhile enterprise, requests for proposals were issued to school bus manufacturers, and in 2002 leading school bus manufacturer IC Corporation was contracted to assemble the buses, which were subsequently outfitted with Enova Systems' proprietary Post Transmission Hybrid System.

Through the buyers' consortium, funding for the project is coming from a variety of sources, says AE hybrid program manager Ewan Pritchard, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, state education departments and the districts themselves.

The hybrid school buses look the same as regular buses but are powered with a charge depleting or plug-in system, which utilizes an advanced battery chemistry that provides stored energy drawn over the driving cycle following an overnight charge, thus optimizing fuel economy. …

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