Peak to Peak Charter School Unveils State’s First All-Electric School Bus Fleet

A continued shortage of bus drivers in Boulder Valley meant that the Peak to Peak Charter School in Lafayette no longer had the ability to rent school district buses to use for field trips and athletics.

But the 1,450-student K-12 school didn’t want to buy diesel buses, so executive director of operations Sam Todd began looking for affordable alternatives. He decided electric buses were the best option, and the school put out an offer to companies that could lease the buses instead of requiring Peak to Peak to buy them outright. The chosen company was Highland electric fleets.

“We didn’t want the fumes, we didn’t want the fuel tanks and we didn’t want the noise,” Todd said.

A student from Peak to Peak Charter School boards one of the school’s new electric buses on Thursday. Peak to Peak’s four electric buses are the state’s first all-electric school bus fleet. Highland Electric Fleets provides the buses, with Peak to Peak paying a 10-year fee. (Amy Bounds/editor)

Peak to Peak, which has about 1,450 students, unveiled its four electric buses on Thursday as the state’s first all-electric bus fleet.

Governor Jared Polis, who is to push a plan to transition school districts to all-electric fleets, praised the school’s efforts at a launch Thursday. He said electric buses are quieter, produce no fumes, save fuel and cost less to maintain.

“This change will not only benefit Peak to Peak, but the entire community,” he said.

As Peak to Peak leases its buses, Polis highlighted state and federal support that can help large school districts purchase electric buses.

That support includes grants from the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as a bipartisan infrastructure bill that Congress passed in 2021. Polis also signed a state bill earlier this year. , SB22-193, which included a $65 million grant program to help school districts switch to electric buses. when replacing aging vehicles.

With state and federal support to cover the cost difference, the $375,000 electric buses are now priced competitively with traditional diesel buses, Polis said.

Boulder Valley added its first electric bus to its fleet of 230 buses in March 2021. The district purchased the $380,000 bus with the help of a $200,000 ALT Fuels Colorado grant from the Regional Air Quality Council.

The district purchased five more electric buses with a combination of a grant from the Colorado Regional Air Quality Council and money from the district’s capital reserve fund, for a total cost of about $1. $.9 million.

Those five buses are expected to arrive in the coming weeks, according to spokeswoman Susan Cousins, while three more electric buses are on order and expected to arrive by the end of the school year. For every electric bus the district acquires, a 2006 or earlier diesel bus is scrapped, she added.

At Peak to Peak, Highland Electric has partnered with McCandless Truck Center to provide the buses and will manage the charging stations and infrastructure installed last summer at Peak to Peak through an Xcel grant.

Highland also helped train the school’s three new bus drivers – all parents who answered the school’s call – and will cover maintenance and electricity costs for the buses and chargers through to a full service agreement with the school.

The agreement includes full financing and services for a fixed annual fee over 10 years, with an option to extend for five years.

“It made the whole process affordable,” Todd said. “We were so happy to find an electric solution.”

Three of the buses have 71 seats, while the fourth has 24. So far in October, the buses have been used for 14 field trips and 10 sports trips. The school expects the electric buses to travel more than 20,000 miles, with larger buses able to travel 150 miles before needing to be recharged.

In addition to field trips and sporting events, the buses will pick up students in the morning from central locations in Lafayette, Louisville, Erie and Broomfield, reducing traffic around campus by approximately 118 cars.

The Denver Post contributed to this report.

Carol N. Valencia