Electric buses first plug-in

Dan Weekly, VP of Energy Innovation and Policy with Dominion Power, helped with a ceremonial first plug-in of one of the buses.

(Evington, VA) Jouley has arrived in the Commonwealth! Virginia’s first electric school buses will begin rolling down the road soon.

Earlier this week, Sonny Merryman and Dominion Energy with partners Thomas Built Buses and Proterra hosted a grand rollout celebration to officially introduce Jouley to public school officials from across the state who soon be receiving the first buses as part of the Dominion Energy Electric School Bus Program.

The Dominion Energy Electric School Bus Program is the nation’s largest deployment of electric school buses. The program was developed to support school divisions as they transition their fleets to electric school buses while also providing environmental benefits and allowing Dominion Energy to explore battery storage capabilities of electric school buses to enhance electric grid reliability. A school division purchasing an electric school bus with traditional funding avenues could expect to pay 3x the amount of a similar diesel school bus. Through the Dominion En­ergy Electric School Bus Program, 50 electric school buses will be delivered to localities across Virginia at the same price of tradi­tional diesel buses, as Do­minion Energy will offset the extra cost for the buses and associated charging in­frastructure.

The rollout celebration was held at Sonny Merry­man – Virginia’s Bus Com­pany – south of Lynchburg, VA. Other guests in at­tendance included repre­sentatives from Virginia Association of Pupil Trans­portation, Virginia Clean Cities, and the Virginia Department of Education along with several public officials. Keynote speakers featured Dan Weekley, Vice President of Energy Inno­vation Policy & Implemen­tation of Dominion Energy, Caley Edgerly, President & CEO of Thomas Built Bus­es, and Floyd Merryman, President & CEO of Sonny Merryman.

The first Jouley electric buses to roll off the produc­tion line and will soon be delivered to Waynesboro City, Pittsylvania County, Fairfax County, and Alex­andria City Public Schools were on display. To the surprise of some guests, the Jouley electric school buses appeared nearly un­distinguishable from tradi­tional diesel school buses. The buses are powered by two 110kWh Proterra bat­teries mounted between the chassis frame rails. Under the hood, where an engine is typically located, there’s really not much to see.

Many in attendance took a ride on Jouley and quickly noticed the lack of noise and silence that filled the cabin. It was a vastly different experience than the hum of a traditional diesel engine bus that often makes it difficult to carry on a conversation with your bus seatmate, much less for the driver to com­municate with passengers. The Jouley electric bus is in fact so quiet that there are two noise emitters located in the front and rear bum­pers that produce a sound similar to a train whistle to alert waiting students and pedestrians when the bus is approaching.

The first of the Jouley electric school buses will be delivered in early No­vember. The remainder of the first 50 buses in Phase 1 of the Dominion Energy Electric School Bus Pro­gram will be delivered throughout the fall/winter months, including to Vir­ginia Beach City Public Schools.

“Virginia Beach City Public Schools is anxiously awaiting the arrival of the eight electric Thomas Built Buses with the Proterra powertrain,” said David Pace, Virginia Beach City Public Schools Executive Director of Transportation and Fleet Services. “This partnership with Dominion Energy and Sonny Mer­ryman to integrate envi­ronmentally sound school buses into our fleet fits perfectly with the VBCPS sustainability goals and program. We are looking forward to a continued re­lationship in the future to place more electric Eco-Friendly school buses into service. These buses will provide the children of Vir­ginia Beach with a greener way to get to and from school.”

With state approval, phase two of the Domin­ion Energy Electric School Bus Program would bring at least 1,000 additional electric school buses on­line by 2025. Once phase two is fully implemented, the buses’ batteries could provide enough energy to power more than 10,000 homes. Phase three sets a goal to have 50 percent of all diesel bus replacements in Dominion Energy’s foot­print to be electric by 2025 and 100 percent by 2030.

“Jouley is the most ex­citing development in the North American pu­pil transportation industry since yellow paint,” said Floyd Merryman, President & CEO of Sonny Merry­man. “Our team is thrilled to partner with Dominion Energy to bring transfor­mative electric buses to Virginia’s public schools.”