School District Gets First Electric Bus

3/12/2021

Durango School District 9-R is one of only eight school districts in Colorado to be awarded a Regional Air Quality Council grant to purchase an electric school bus. Find out how it will benefit the district's sustainability goals and financial bottom line. Written by Deborah Uroda and Edited by Zach Marqua

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Durango School District 9-R

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will add a new electric-powered school bus

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to its fleet this fall, and it's free.

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You're watching the Local News Network,

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brought to you by The

Overlook at Edgemont Highlands

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and Serious Texas Bar-B-Q.

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I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

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Durango School District 9-R

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is one of only eight school

districts in the state

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to receive a $329,000 grant

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to purchase and install a

fully electric school bus

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and related charging facilities.

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The Regional Air Quality

Council awarded the grant

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as part of its ALT Fuels Colorado program

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to improve air quality by

replacing pre-2009 vehicles

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with electric and renewable

natural gas buses.

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The La Plata Electric

Association applied for the grant

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with the district's approval.

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In addition to the Air

Quality Council grant,

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LPEA will contribute

an additional $120,000

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to provide electric

charging infrastructure

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and cover bus costs.

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I think it's really exciting

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'cause this is just a great opportunity

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with La Plata Electric

and the school district

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to partner together to do this.

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We saw an opportunity to get

a bus for free basically,

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and let's try forward, and we got it.

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La Plata Electric's Dominic May,

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who works as the cooperative's

energy resource architect,

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says the grant is the

start of a long-term effort

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to help LPEA users reduce

their carbon footprint

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and energy costs in the region.

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Yeah, that's going to

be a big, big savings.

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Their current buses get

about seven miles per gallon.

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The electricity that we're going

to be charging the bus with

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is going to be on LPEA's really

aggressive time-of-use rate.

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So it's basically, we're

going to control that charger

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and make sure that we only fuel up the bus

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during those perfect times

in the middle of the day

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after it's done its route,

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and then in the evening times

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after it's also finished it's later route.

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And in effect, it's going

to let us charge that bus

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at 6.20 cents per kilowatt

hour, which is very, very cheap.

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In the end that's going to be right,

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it's going to get both cleaner

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and potentially cheaper as time goes on,

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but right now, that's roughly 1/4

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the cost of the diesel fuel.

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And the other big thing

on that is maintenance.

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There's no transmission,

there's no engine,

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there's no internal combustion engine.

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The total moving parts in an

electric vehicle can get down.

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It's usually under 50,

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compared to many, many

hundreds of moving parts

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in internal combustion engine vehicles,

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so the maintenance is way, way less.

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Those will be the big cost savings to 9-R,

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and then just in addition to the fact

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that they needed new buses

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and they're getting a

brand new bus for no money,

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that they would have

otherwise had to purchase

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for about $150,000 for a diesel

had they gone that route.

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The district has 37 large school buses

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that travel an average

of 150 miles per day

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and use about 200 gallons of

diesel or gas fuel a week.

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The district's fuel budget

alone is $140,000 a year.

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Blythe said the electric

bus will be able to travel

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two routes each day on one charge.

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Blythe ordered of the bus in February

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and it's expected to arrive

in about eight months,

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just in time for the fall 2021 semester.

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The electric bus purchase

is the first step

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toward fulfilling a long-term

district transportation goal,

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to replace all diesel

and gas-powered buses

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with vehicles that run

on electricity, propane,

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or compressed natural gas.

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It's also part of a district-wide goal

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to incorporate more

sustainability practices

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in its operations.

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Looking longterm, the

district has already started

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looking at ways of cost savings

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with LED lighting and low-flow toilets,

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so moving towards leaving

less of a footprint behind

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is a goal of the district.

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To learn more about the

district's transportation goals,

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visit duranngoschools.org.

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Thanks for watching this edition

of the Local News Network.

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Be sure to stay up to date

on our latest news stories

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through Twitter, Instagram

or your favorite podcast app.

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I'm Wendy Graham Settle.

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