East Grand School District to get electric buses

The electric bus West Grand School District purchased in 2021, shown in this file photo, has a range of 120 miles and a charging time of four hours.
Amy Golden/Sky-Hi News

In June, the East Grand School District board approved the $193,860 purchase of a new activity bus. During that meeting, then-Superintendent Frank Reeves said one way to make the steep purchase (the district bought a bus for $129,690 in 2021) “more acceptable” would be to get an Environmental Protection Agency rebate for electric buses in the future.

District transportation director Lisa Mirabito worked on an application for the EPA program, and the government agency awarded East Grand the rebate — $790,000 for two electric buses — last month. 

Superintendent Brad Ray said $750,000 will go toward purchasing the buses while $40,000 will go toward charging infrastructure. He hopes the district will not have to pay anything for the buses. By the time they are purchased and ready to run, the total price could increase, but the state may help cover the extra cost.

“I was in a meeting where the governor said that the state itself has some money that they set aside for some similar programs if we have an escalation of prices — I don’t know if you know this, but things get more expensive every day,” Ray said.

The electric buses will be daily route drivers, Ray said. He would not expect them to be used for athletics or other activities because they do not have the same mileage range as gas-powered buses.

West Grand purchased the first high-elevation electric school bus in the state with money from a state grant and Mountain Parks Electric in 2021. Ray said he hopes West Grand can provide some guidance in operating and maintaining electric buses in Grand County, as he expects there will be plenty for the district to learn.

Ray did not give a timetable for when the electric buses could arrive and start running, but said it mostly depends on the supply chain and how quickly the district can prepare the infrastructure ahead of receiving the buses.

East Grand will have to turn in two of their older gas-powered buses as part of the EPA’s rebate program. The district received the second-most of the four districts in Colorado that received the EPA rebate, trailing Big Sandy School District in Elbert County which received just under $1.1 million for three buses.

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