Earlier this year, Modesto City Schools in central California announced an aggressive plan to electrify its entire fleet of 62 buses, starting with the first 30 electric buses received from Blue Bird this spring. The school district broke ground on the electrical infrastructure Wednesday and plans to have electric buses on the routes by early 2023.
“People thought it was silly at first to buy buses before they had the infrastructure, but with the current timelines, you have to get things done right away,” commented Gilbert Rosas, director of sustainability. and District Adaptation, during the School Transportation Nation podcast
Rosas is leading the project and will moderate a panel discussion on how to successfully manage a power infrastructure implementation project alongside district partners during a July 19 session at STN EXPO Reno. Panelists will include representatives from The Mobility House which supplies the chargers, engineering contractor Schneider Electric, electrical service provider Modesto Irrigation District and bus dealership AZ Bus Sales.
Rosas, who fully implemented electric school buses in the nearby Stockton Unified School District in less than 12 months, said early and often local utility engagement is key to any new electrification project. and should be the first call school districts make.
“They will know your needs, your story and what it will take from their end,” he said, adding that the Modesto Irrigation District provides most of the electricity the school district will need, the remainder being supplied by the Turlock Irrigation District.
“You have to work with your agents, get to know them, coach them, and that will lead to a successful deployment,” Rosas concluded.
Editor’s note: An original version of this article incorrectly stated how long it took the Stockton Unified School District to fully implement its electric school bus program.
Related: Browse the sessions scheduled for STN EXPO Reno in July
Related: STN EXPO Indianapolis Session to Address Electric School Bus Implementation
Related: ‘Historic’ infrastructure bill kicks off electric school bus funding stream