First All-Electric School Bus Hits Valley Roads

A new all-electric bus will be picking up school kids in Washington County, Tenn., this fall.

The Washington County Department of Education was awarded a grant for $219,250 to purchase the electric bus and charging station through the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. By spearheading transportation electrification efforts in Tennessee, TDEC seeks to improve transportation efficiency, reduce vehicle emissions and enhance the resiliency of the transportation sector through diversification of available fuels.

“The Washington County Department of Education has a history of implementing projects that promote clean energy and energy efficiency,” says Jerry Boyd, Washington County’s Director of Schools.

According to Dr. Jarrod Adams, Assistant Director of Schools, the partnership between the TDEC, TVA and BrightRidge is a major advancement in the effort to reduce the district’s carbon footprint.

“We plan to put this bus on a regular route, five days per week, just like our diesel-powered buses,” Adams says. “We are really excited about getting this school bus on the road.”

BrightRidge and TVA are supporting the project by providing additional funding and assistance with installing and powering the charging station. The charging station will be installed at the Washington County bus garage in Jonesborough.

“BrightRidge is excited to continue partnering with our community on leading-edge technologies that truly make a difference in our daily lives,” BrightRidge CEO Jeff Dykes says. “Electric vehicle sales are projected to increase exponentially in coming years as major manufacturers ramp up alternatives to fossil-fueled vehicles. At BrightRidge, we are planning for this future and are pleased to partner with Washington County Schools as the future becomes reality.”

“TVA is committed to cutting emissions in the Valley. This project allows us to support that goal while also investing in Valley schools, supporting our local communities and demonstrating the first-ever electric school bus in Tennessee,” says Joe Hoagland, TVA vice president of Innovation and Research.

TDEC and TVA are working collaboratively to accelerate the electrification of transportation through programs to reduce or eliminate the top market barriers that currently prevent more people and businesses from choosing electric vehicles. The anticipated outcome of these programs is increasing the number of electric vehicles on Tennessee highways from 12,000 as of March 2021 to well over 200,000 by 2028.

The grant funds are part of the state’s Volkswagen Diesel Settlement Environmental Mitigation Trust (EMT) School Bus Replacement Grant Program, which provides financial assistance to replace an eligible school bus with any new diesel, alternate-fueled, or all-electric school bus. The EMT is designed to support environmental mitigation projects that will reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide. For additional information on the VW Settlement, visit the TDEC website here: http://www.tn.gov/environment/VWSettlement.