Chesterfield County Fleet Services Division
Chesterfield Count Public Schools
May 27, 2021
CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, VA — Chesterfield County’s fleet of school buses is getting leaner and greener for the start of the 2021-22 school year.
Dominion Energy and Virginia’s exclusive Thomas Built Buses dealer Sonny Merryman Inc. recently delivered metro Richmond’s first two Thomas Jouley electric school buses to Chesterfield.
This is the first time Chesterfield County Public Schools will be adding electric school buses to its fleet of over 630 buses. A formal “plug-in” ceremony for the new electric buses is slated for August.
“We strive to be good stewards of the environment in Chesterfield,” said Dr. Joe Casey, Chesterfield County Administrator. “Through Dominion’s innovative program, we are taking the opportunity to lead the region in this effort and a win-win for our students and those needing a precious energy source on peak demand days.”
Chesterfield County Government and Chesterfield County Public Schools collaborated on an application to receive the electric school buses through Dominion Energy’s Electric School Bus Program. Under the program, which aims to help school districts electrify their bus fleets, school districts pay no more for an electric school bus than they would for a traditional diesel model. The program also covers the installation of the related charging infrastructure.
“Collaborations with businesses and community partners greatly benefit our students and the entire county,” said Dr. Mervin B. Daugherty, Superintendent of Chesterfield County Public Schools. “These electric school buses will make a difference from their very first route as they daily demonstrate to our students how STEM, environmental protection and everyday life can connect.”
The Thomas Jouley buses are emissions-free at the tailpipe, noise pollution free and fossil fuel free – making them some of the most environmentally efficient buses in the nation.
Replacing one diesel bus with one electric bus is the equivalent of removing roughly five cars from the road. Additionally, an electric bus reduces operation and maintenance costs for schools by 60 percent as compared to a diesel model. Each bus can seat up to 77 students and travel an average of 135 miles on a three-hour charge.
Aside from reducing maintenance costs and emissions, the new buses’ batteries will be able to store and inject electric energy into the local power grid during periods of high demand when the buses are not in transport.
“This is a significant milestone for Chesterfield County and an exciting time to expand our fleet of alternative-fueled vehicles,” said Craig Willingham, Chesterfield Fleet Services Division fleet manager. “We’ve experienced great success in recent years with propane buses and are looking forward to understanding the value and cost benefit these electric buses will provide.”
The electric school buses in Chesterfield County are part of Dominion Energy’s effort to put 50 electric school buses on the roads in its service area this year.
“We are committed to helping our customers lower their carbon footprint and harness new, innovative technologies,” said Dan Weekley, vice president of Innovation Policy and Implementation for Dominion Energy. “Electric school buses are an innovative, sustainable solution that will help the environment, protect children’s health, make the electric grid stronger, and provide a cost-efficient option for the school system, and we can’t wait to see them transporting students in Chesterfield County.”
The Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors approved a request in November 2020 by the fleet services division to have the electric charging stations installed at its bus maintenance facility on Walmsley Boulevard.
“There is no question the future of human mobility, including buses and global sustainability, is electric, which is why we are so excited about our role in delivering the first electric school buses to Chesterfield County Public Schools,” said Floyd Merryman, Sonny Merryman President & CEO.
Chesterfield County Public Schools is the fifth-largest school system in Virginia, educating more than 62,000 students. Chesterfield County school buses travel more than 9 million miles annually as they transport students to and from school and deliver them to field trip destinations and athletic events.