Montgomery County School Board’s 16-year contract with Highland Electric Transportation for 1,400 electric school buses demonstrates simplified transportation electrification at scale
WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 24, 2021 — Today, national business group Advanced Energy Economy applauded the news that Maryland’s Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) board approved a 1,400 electric school bus fleet contract, the largest in the nation by a municipality. MCPS awarded the 16-year contract to Mass.-based Highland Electric Transportation (an AEE member) which will deliver, own, and charge the fleet. MCPS, located outside of Washington, D.C., serves over 200 public schools with more than 1,400 school buses, making it one of the Top 10 largest school bus fleets in the country.
“This leadership step taken by Montgomery County Public Schools shows that it’s possible today to electrify transportation at scale,” said Nat Kreamer, CEO of Advanced Energy Economy. “Comprehensive solutions like Highland Electric’s can leverage private capital, meet the needs of fleet operators, and serve communities now without burdening ratepayers or taxpayers.”
“We are thrilled to serve MCPS and make vehicle fleet electrification simple for the customer, as we deal with the many details — from procuring the electric buses, setting up charging systems, and training MCPS drivers and service staff — so they can focus on safely transporting students and reducing pollution in their community,” said Duncan McIntyre, CEO of Highland Electric Transportation. "Our unique approach ensures the buses are charged and ready to cover their routes, recharged at optimum times, and available to offer grid reliability services through the local utility. It’s truly a win-win-win for all."
The buses will be manufactured domestically by Thomas Built (a division of Daimler) and powered by Proterra’s electric bus technology, making Highland among the biggest customers of Proterra, which recently announced plans to go public. Typical school buses spend 90 percent of the time parked; Highland is leveraging this opportunity to provide vehicle-to-grid (V2G) services from the electric buses’ batteries and creating an additional revenue stream to offset fleet costs.
“This is the first step toward meeting President Biden’s pledge to electrify all 500,000 school buses across the nation over the next decade,” added Kreamer. “These school buses do double duty, providing pollution-free transportation for schoolchildren and grid services that benefit all electric customers, while also being available as mobile backup for communities affected by power outages.”
“Highland Electric Transportation offered us a unique risk-free, turn-key solution to transition our entire school bus fleet over time within our budget,” said Todd Watkins, MCPS Transportation Director. “We can be part of the solution to significantly reduce pollution that impacts our students and their families today.”
HET-MCPS Project Summary:
In Spring 2020, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) issued a request for ideas on how to electrify their entire school bus fleet, later followed by a formal request for proposals for “Full Fleet Electrification” in stages.
Highland's three-phase plan will deliver new electric buses replacing retiring diesel buses, getting to full fleet electrification by the end of the 12 year period; delivering 25 buses this fall, 61 next year, then roughly 120 each year after.
Highland will design, construct, and operate electric vehicle charging infrastructure at all five MCPS bus depots, representing more than 5 megawatts (MW) of new electric load at each depot; Highland is embarking on a plan to purchase 100% of this electricity from renewable energy in the region, over time.
Electric school buses will be funded and charged by Highland, and will be maintained and operated by the existing MCPS staff, representing a new model for a public-private partnership.
The initial electric school buses will be out on the roads starting in September 2021, participating in regular home-to-school routes and extracurricular trips.
When the bus fleets are not moving students, they will reside at the bus depots; Highland will use the bus batteries to support the integration of more renewable energy, participating in a number of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) activities, earning supplemental income, which is used to lower the contract price to MCPS.
Highland will own all vehicles and all charging infrastructure, and will provide managed charging services as well as maintenance collaboration under a 16-year $168,684,990 contract starting in 2021.
HET announced last week it had closed on $253 million in equity funding and expects to hire 30 more operations and finance staff to manage its growing client base.
About Advanced Energy Economy
Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) is a national association of businesses that are making the energy we use secure, clean, and affordable. AEE is the only industry association in the U.S. that represents the full range of advanced energy technologies and services, both grid-scale and distributed. Advanced energy includes energy efficiency, demand response, energy storage, wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, electric vehicles, and more. AEE’s mission is to transform public policy to enable rapid growth of advanced energy businesses. Engaged at the federal level and more than a dozen states around the country, AEE represents more than 100 companies in the $238 billion U.S. advanced energy industry, which employs 3.6 million U.S. workers. AEE's PowerSuite online platform allows users to track regulatory and legislative issues in state legislatures, U.S. Congress, state PUCs, RTOs/ISOs, and FERC. Sign up for a free trial at powersuite.aee.net. Follow us at @AEEnet.