BI School Committee makes history

Thu, 09/23/2021 - 3:30pm

At the Monday, Sept. 20 meeting of the School Committee, its five members voted unanimously to accept the donation of an electric bus. And so Block Island became the first community in Rhode Island to commit to acquiring an electric bus.
The bus, to all appearances, is a standard-sized school bus, but it is powered entirely by batteries, which will be charged from the Block Island Power Company grid. Superintendent Robert Gerardi presented a careful cost analysis that projected an operational cost savings of nearly $20,000 annually.
The funds for the bus purchase are being donated by the Solar Initiative, Block Island, in its ongoing quest to reduce carbon emissions
on our island and be an example to other communities to effect conservation measures. It is estimated that electrically-powered vehicles
use only one quarter of the fuel as diesel-powered ones and even less if the electricity is produced by renewable means.

This particular bus also has V2G capacity, which means that the power stored in the batteries could be used to help shave peak island
electricity usage. The Block Island Power Company has given its enthusiastic support and is planning a one-year trial period in which the V2G aspect can be evaluated. The bus is expected to be delivered to the island in the second quarter of 2022.
The committee members raised a number of questions prior to their vote.
Question: Where will the bus be located?
Answer: In the same location as the current bus is, as long as the charging apparatus can be installed close by.
Question: What about the current bus contract?
Answer: It is a one-year contract that will be honored and the current bus driver has evidenced eagerness to use an electric vehicle in the future.

Question: Will the school receive any savings from the peak-shaving aspect?
Answer: We hope so, but that will depend on the actual performance during the first year trial period and the financing arrangements around the charging system (which is additional to the cost of the bus).

Question: what is the expected longevity of the bus and batteries?
Answer: The bus is projected to have a 10-year life and the batteries are warrantied for eight years. Due to fewer moving parts in an electric vehicle and the low mileage on the island school routes, it is possible that the 10-year period may be exceeded.

Once arrangements are finalized, look for the bus as it quietly passes your home on the way to deliver our children to the school next year.