Electric cooperatives, transportation company launch Minnesota’s first electric school bus program

Beginning this fall, some Minnesota students will be transported to and from school on an all-electric school bus as part of a first-of-its-kind program in the state.

This opportunity is made possible through a collaboration between Schmitty & Sons, Dakota Electric Association and Great River Energy to launch a program that will demonstrate the technology of a battery electric school bus in a cold-weather climate as well as on longer suburban and rural routes.

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100 mile range, average route is 66 miles
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“We’re also seeking to document the economics of the bus on our system and as part of Schmitty & Sons’ bus fleet, including overall operation and maintenance cost savings and the calculation of emissions reductions,” said David Ranallo, manager of member services and marketing at Great River Energy. “

The eLion bus, manufactured by Canada-based Lion Electric Co., appears like a regular diesel school bus but is powered 100 percent by electricity. The 72-passenger bus contains up to five batteries, giving it a range of 100 miles per charge, which fits well within the average 66-mile daily route of a school bus in the United States. It can recharge overnight when electricity demand – and cost – is lower, ensuring that it’s ready to go the next morning when a bus driver hits the road.

“We’ve looked at other fuel-alternative school buses but haven’t seen any additional advantages like we have with the eLion model,” said Bill Forbord, COO of Schmitty & Sons. “It’s a quiet, smooth ride and has the next generation of operational and safety features. It’s also very user-friendly for the driver.”

The three companies are using this program as an opportunity to promote and educate the public on the value of an energy-efficient and carbon-free technology.

“We are thrilled at the opportunity to bring this technology to our members,” said Jane Siebenaler, Dakota Electric Association business account executive. “Because of this collaboration, we are able to strengthen a member relationship, pilot cutting-edge electric bus technology and lay the foundation for what could be an excellent, energy-efficient school bus option.”

About Schmitty & Sons
Schmitty & Sons is an employee owned diversified company with corporate offices in Lakeville, Minn. The company currently operates transit buses, BRT Red Line, flex route buses, school buses, special transportation (STS), mini/mid-size coaches, motor coaches and a full-service maintenance facility. The organization’s focus is to provide our customers with safe, reliable transportation. Learn more at www.schmittyandsons.com.

About Dakota Electric Association
A member-owned, nonprofit utility since 1937, Dakota Electric Association, Farmington, Minn., provides electricity to more than 105,000 members throughout Dakota County and portions of Goodhue, Rice and Scott counties. Dakota Electric, a Touchstone Energy Cooperative, serves its member-owners with integrity, accountability, innovation and commitment to community. Learn more at www.dakotaelectric.com.

About Great River Energy
Great River Energy, Maple Grove, Minn. is a not-for-profit cooperative that provides wholesale electric service to 28 distribution cooperatives in Minnesota and parts of Wisconsin. Those member cooperatives distribute electricity to approximately 685,000 member consumers. With $4 billion in assets, Great River Energy is the second largest electric power supplier in Minnesota and one of the largest generation and transmission cooperatives in the United States.