School District Gets First Electric Bus

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Durango School District 9-R

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will add a new electric-powered school bus

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to its fleet this fall, and it’s free.

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You’re watching the Local News Network,

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brought to you by The

Overlook at Edgemont Highlands

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and Serious Texas Bar-B-Q.

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I’m Wendy Graham Settle.

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Durango School District 9-R

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is one of only eight school

districts in the state

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to receive a $329,000 grant

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to purchase and install a

fully electric school bus

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and related charging facilities.

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The Regional Air Quality

Council awarded the grant

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as part of its ALT Fuels Colorado program

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to improve air quality by

replacing pre-2009 vehicles

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with electric and renewable

natural gas buses.

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The La Plata Electric

Association applied for the grant

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with the district’s approval.

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In addition to the Air

Quality Council grant,

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LPEA will contribute

an additional $120,000

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to provide electric

charging infrastructure

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and cover bus costs.

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I think it’s really exciting

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’cause this is just a great opportunity

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with La Plata Electric

and the school district

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to partner together to do this.

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We saw an opportunity to get

a bus for free basically,

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and let’s try forward, and we got it.

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La Plata Electric’s Dominic May,

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who works as the cooperative’s

energy resource architect,

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says the grant is the

start of a long-term effort

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to help LPEA users reduce

their carbon footprint

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and energy costs in the region.

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Yeah, that’s going to

be a big, big savings.

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Their current buses get

about seven miles per gallon.

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The electricity that we’re going

to be charging the bus with

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is going to be on LPEA’s really

aggressive time-of-use rate.

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So it’s basically, we’re

going to control that charger

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and make sure that we only fuel up the bus

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during those perfect times

in the middle of the day

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after it’s done its route,

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and then in the evening times

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after it’s also finished it’s later route.

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And in effect, it’s going

to let us charge that bus

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at 6.20 cents per kilowatt

hour, which is very, very cheap.

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In the end that’s going to be right,

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it’s going to get both cleaner

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and potentially cheaper as time goes on,

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but right now, that’s roughly 1/4

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the cost of the diesel fuel.

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And the other big thing

on that is maintenance.

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There’s no transmission,

there’s no engine,

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there’s no internal combustion engine.

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The total moving parts in an

electric vehicle can get down.

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It’s usually under 50,

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compared to many, many

hundreds of moving parts

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in internal combustion engine vehicles,

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so the maintenance is way, way less.

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Those will be the big cost savings to 9-R,

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and then just in addition to the fact

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that they needed new buses

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and they’re getting a

brand new bus for no money,

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that they would have

otherwise had to purchase

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for about $150,000 for a diesel

had they gone that route.

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The district has 37 large school buses

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that travel an average

of 150 miles per day

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and use about 200 gallons of

diesel or gas fuel a week.

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The district’s fuel budget

alone is $140,000 a year.

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Blythe said the electric

bus will be able to travel

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two routes each day on one charge.

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Blythe ordered of the bus in February

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and it’s expected to arrive

in about eight months,

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just in time for the fall 2021 semester.

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The electric bus purchase

is the first step

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toward fulfilling a long-term

district transportation goal,

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to replace all diesel

and gas-powered buses

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with vehicles that run

on electricity, propane,

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or compressed natural gas.

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It’s also part of a district-wide goal

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to incorporate more

sustainability practices

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in its operations.

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Looking longterm, the

district has already started

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looking at ways of cost savings

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with LED lighting and low-flow toilets,

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so moving towards leaving

less of a footprint behind

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is a goal of the district.

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To learn more about the

district’s transportation goals,

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visit duranngoschools.org.

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Thanks for watching this edition

of the Local News Network.

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Be sure to stay up to date

on our latest news stories

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through Twitter, Instagram

or your favorite podcast app.

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I’m Wendy Graham Settle.

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