School bus electrification has been gaining steam all across the United States. School districts are leaving traditional diesel buses for cleaner and more efficient ones. With numerous programs available, the transition to electric buses is becoming easier for schools — they can more easily replace their entire fleet. One of the leading providers of fleet electrification-as-a-service, Highland Electric Fleet, has teamed up with Peak to Peak Charter School, a leading charter school in the Boulder Valley School District, to launch a fleet of electric buses to serve the students attending the school.
To commemorate the occasion, Colorado Governor Jared Polis spoke at the official launch event to recognize Colorado’s first all-electric school bus fleet. Governor Polis recently enacted SB 193, allocating $65 million for electric school buses in the state and accelerating the transition to cleaner, healthier transportation for Colorado’s students, drivers, and communities.
“This is another exciting step toward Colorado’s clean energy future, better air quality, and increased savings for Colorado schools,” said Governor Polis. “More and more schools are transitioning to electric buses to reduce costs so that money that would have gone to diesel fuel can instead go to better teacher pay and smaller class size.”
Peak to Peak Charter School, with the help of Highland, found an affordable solution to provide transportation for student athletics and activities. Utilizing Highlands simple program, the school receives full-service fleet electrification that includes financing and comprehensive services for a fixed annual fee over 10 years with an option for a 5-year extension. By using this program, Peak to Peak can avoid the costly upfront cost of purchasing electric buses (typically $350,000 each) and provide clean, reliable, safe transportation for its students at a manageable price.
“Without the expertise of Highland Electric Fleets, Peak to Peak would not have been able to build an electric bus fleet from the ground up,” said Sam Todd, Executive Director of Operations at Peak to Peak Charter School. “Their knowledge of this new electric bus frontier and available grants make the program affordable. It is a dream come true for our school and our students.”
Highland has partnered with McCandless Truck Center to provide IC and Collins/Lightning electric buses and will manage the electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and infrastructure installed over the past summer on the Peak to Peak campus. The training for the new bus drivers, maintenance, and charging will be handled by Highland as part of a full-service agreement with the school.
“Delivering a first-of-its-kind project in the state of Colorado through our innovative public-private partnership makes clean and reliable electric school buses available for less than a diesel bus fleet,” said Richard DiMatteo, EVP of Highland and head of the company’s second headquarters in Denver. “As the largest all-electric school bus fleet in the state, we now have clear proof that electrification is not a future pipe dream but the smarter, more affordable option today. With high fuel prices and maintenance costs for diesel buses, now is the best time to upgrade, providing Colorado residents with the air quality the state deserves.”
Before 2020, Peak to Peak Charter School would use Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) buses when they needed to transport students for field trips, athletics, and extracurricular activities. One issue that arose was a bus driver shortage during the pandemic which forced Boulder Valley School District to make difficult decisions on bus and personnel available to transport Peak to Peak’s students. Peak to Peak could no longer rent buses, so the district needed to find an affordable solution. They needed to ensure consistent and reliable transportation and couldn’t undertake a complex infrastructure project on their own.
“Highland managed the entire project, remained within our budget, and provided the needed infrastructure and the electric buses,” said Todd. “This fall, we are pleased to provide this new opportunity for our students and families. It will make our extracurricular programming more accessible to a broad range of students. In addition, we can now be less dependent on our parent/guardian community for extracurricular transportation.”
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