Blue Bird Corp. has teamed up with Highland Electric Fleets to make it simpler and more affordable for Hardin County Community Unit School District #1 (CUSD #1) in Illinois to upgrade to clean electric school buses. The school district ordered 12 Blue Bird Type C electric school buses through Highland. Highland’s fleet electrification-as-a-service offering allows districts and third-party fleet managers to avoid the upfront costs and complexity of electrification, accelerating the adoption of clean student transportation.
Blue Bird’s zero-emission electric school buses are partially funded by a $4,740,000 grant through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2022 Clean School Bus Rebate Program. This program is part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) which provides a total of $5 billion over five years for clean school bus transportation. The EPA recently awarded nearly $1 billion in funding to school districts across all 50 U.S. states for over 2,400 clean school buses. The funds also assist recipient organizations to establish the required clean energy charging infrastructure.
“We are thrilled to receive funding from the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program for 12 new Blue Bird electric buses,” says 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,” states Britton Smith, senior vice president of electrification and chief strategy officer of Blue Bird Corp. “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,” adds 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.”
Blue Bird Electric buses come standard with vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capability, enabling Highland to coordinate with local utility companies to manage vehicle charging and return stored energy back to the grid as needed.