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Blue Bird Teams Up with Highland Electric Fleets to Provide 12 Electric School Buses to Illinois School District

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The Hardin County Community Unit School District #1 (CUSD #1) in Illinois is preparing to upgrade some of its buses to clean Blue Bird electric school buses. The newly upgraded school buses are a result of Blue Bird Corporation and Highland Electric Fleets teaming up to offer electrified buses to school districts like Hardin County. The Blue Bird and Highland duo now makes it simpler and more affordable for schools to make the switch to electrification.

Twelve Blue Bird Type C electric school buses were ordered by the school district from Highland. With the help of Highland’s fleet electrification-as-a-service solution, districts and external fleet managers may now adopt environmentally-friendly student transportation by avoiding the up-front expenses and complexity of electrification.

A $4,740,000 subsidy from the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2022 Clean School Bus Rebate Program helps to partially finance Blue Bird’s zero-emission electric school buses. This initiative is a part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), which allocates $5 billion over five years for the use of clean school bus transportation. Recently, the EPA gave over $1 billion in financing to school districts in all 50 states of the United States for more than 2,400 clean school buses. The funds help recipient organizations build the necessary sustainable energy-charging infrastructure as well.

“We are thrilled to receive funding from the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program for 12 new Blue Bird electric buses,” said Andy Edmondson, superintendent at CUSD #1. “The EPA funding, combined with Highland’s financing and services, helps us avoid the usual cost and complexity of electrification and deliver cleaner, healthier transportation options to our students and communities.”

“Many school districts across America are committed to reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions and improving student health by shifting to clean electric school buses. However, the upfront purchase price of electric school buses often represents a barrier to entry,” said Britton Smith, senior vice president of electrification and chief strategy officer of Blue Bird Corporation. “We are proud to collaborate with Highland Electric Fleets and to jointly serve Hardin County CUSD #1. It is our goal to reduce the total cost of ownership of electric school bus fleets to be on par with or below the investment needed for current diesel fleets.”

“Highland makes it as simple and affordable as possible for school districts and fleet managers to upgrade to two or 300 electric buses today,” said Duncan McIntyre, CEO of Highland Electric Fleets, which has over 385 electric school buses under contract to date. “Electric school buses provide clean, quiet, and reliable student transportation and also serve as energy assets in the community, contributing to grid reliability and resiliency during extreme weather events. We are excited to work with Blue Bird to help Hardin CUSD #1 and other Illinois schools electrify their fleets.”

Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capability is a standard feature on Blue Bird Electric buses, allowing Highland to work with nearby utility providers to manage vehicle charging and transfer stored energy back into the grid as needed. V2G initiatives assist in balancing grid load, enhancing grid resilience, and bringing down the overall cost of school districts’ fleets of electric buses.

With more than 700 electric-powered, zero-emission school buses in operation today, Blue Bird is still the market leader in sustainable transportation. With a maximum capacity of 84 passengers and a range of up to 120 miles per charge, the firm manufactures a whole line of electric school buses. The buses take three to eight hours to fully recharge, depending on the charging infrastructure. With a typical Level 2 (AC) charger, Blue Bird Electric buses can charge in approximately 8 hours. With the new fast charging option, which utilizes a CCS1 plug, the buses can charge in approximately 3 hours!

Blue Bird has been around for a long time and has transported millions of children to and from school since it was founded in 1927. The company has been a leader in low and zero-emission school buses and with the help of Highland Electric more and more school districts can take advantage of switching to electric school buses for cleaner student transportation.

Source: Blue Bird

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