• MLWA 7

Washington’s first electric school bus rolls through Tacoma

— Tacoma WA

Monday’s ribbon cutting ceremony marked Franklin-Pierce County School District as a leader in green transportation. A full electric charge can power the bus to travel 120 miles.

The school received the bus funding from The TransAlta Centralia Coal Transition Grants Energy Technology Board, according to a Franklin Pierce Schools press release. The board awarded two grants to the district. One awarded $330,155 to purchase

Washington State’s first electric school bus. The other awarded $65,858 to install a 20-kilowatt Washington-made solar electricity generation system at Keithley Middle School.

Robin Heinrichs, Franklin Pierce Schools executive director of support services, said electric buses are about reducing operating costs and air pollution without sacrificing performance. Heinrichs said they consume more than 100,000 gallons in diesel fuel each year for the bus fleet. So, transitioning completely to electric buses would significantly reduce air pollution in that area.

“This is a win however you look at it,” Heinrichs said. “Electric vehicles just make sense given our limited geographic size of the district and the patterns of use for our vehicles.”

But schools aren’t the only group clearing the way for cleaner buses on roads.

The Washington State Department of Ecology will invest $13.3 million to help several local transit agencies purchase dozens of zero emission, battery-powered electric buses. This will more than double the number of electric buses currently on Washington roads. The $13 million comes from the money Volkswagen paid the state because of a recent settlement. Transit agencies can also use the funding to pay for charging stations.