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Some Districts, Charter Schools Try Electric School Buses

August 21, 2017

GreenPower Motor Company and School Bus Sales of California announced last week they had secured commitments for the purchase of electric school buses from six different school districts and charter schools in the South Coast and North Coast districts.

GreenPower just rolled out its new school bus – the Synapse 72 all-electric Type D school bus – to go along with its transit buses and double-decker buses.

The company, now headquartered in Porterville (Tulare County), is hoping to begin construction of its assembly plant at the Porterville Airport within a few days. It has submitted building plans and is awaiting approval from the City of Porterville. Construction is expected to take six to nine months.

“We’re on track. We’re just waiting for one or two permits from the City of Porterville,” said Brendan Riley, president of GreenPower.

For now, the company is doing initial assembly of its buses overseas. Riley said the hope is to do final assembly of some of its buses in Porterville in the near future, and eventually all assembly would be done at the new plant.

The company had a final assembly plant in Southern California, but has closed that and moved all operations to Porterville. It is temporarily operated out of two airplane hangars owned by the Tule River Indian Economic Development Corporation.

The company also has on order 10 electric-powered transit buses for the City of Porterville. The city received grants totaling approximately $11 million to purchase the buses and charging stations.

“We can’t wait,” he said of getting started. “We have to start those (city buses) today.”
As part of the approval and purchase process, these school districts have advised the South Coast or North Coast of their intention to acquire the Synapse 72 and, where applicable, have asked School Bus Sales of California to apply to reserve funds from the Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project voucher project. A number of these school districts are also evaluating their long-term charging requirements in order to accommodate an even larger fleet of all-electric school buses than their initial secured order.

GreenPower and School Bus Sales of California have been giving demonstrations of the Synapse 72 all-electric school bus to school districts and charter schools that were selected by the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District for funding directly tied to the purchases of all-electric school buses.

Right now, said Riley, the Porterville site is serving as the company’s only American headquarters. They will do pre-delivery inspections, maintenance and parts supply.
So far, the company has delivered only one bus, that in Canada where the company originated.

“We’re all excited,” said Riley of the promise to order school buses and to get construction started on their plant.

GreenPower first approached the city in November of 2015 and broke ground on their plant on June 2 of this year.

The South Coast AQMD has currently approved awards for Type C or Type D school buses and the associated charging infrastructure to select school districts. To be eligible for funding, an applicant must receive approval for HVIP funds from the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Including the HVIP voucher amount, the South Coast funds will be used to pay for the balance of the electric school bus up to a total of $368,000 plus another $20,000 for the related charging infrastructure. For the North Coast, the funding for a zero-emission school bus can be up to $400,000 with an additional $5,000 for the related infrastructure.

GreenPower’s Synapse 72 all-electric Type D school bus has already been approved by CARB for a voucher which provides for up to $110,000 for each Synapse 72 sold for use in a disadvantaged community in California.

Source:  Porterville Herald, Marketwire

A Total School Solutions publication.