What’s yellow, has six wheels, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions in our community? If you guessed DTE Energy’s new electric school bus pilot program – you’re correct!

DTE has partnered with Ann Arbor and Roseville schools to deploy six new school buses that will be used for transportation, as well as an educational tool for children to learn about the environmental impacts of carbon, electric vehicles, and how we can all contribute to a greener future. Over their lifetime, the buses are expected to save nearly 490 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, which is equivalent to the amount of carbon consumed by over 7,300 trees in 10 years.

DTE Energy, Ann Arbor Public Schools, Roseville Community Schools, Michigan Association for Pupil Transportation (MAPT), Thomas Built Buses, Proterra and Hoekstra Transportation partnered to secure the buses. Funding for the buses was received from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) in collaboration with MAPT and the Volkswagen Beneficiary Mitigation Plan.

This transformative initiative that offers a glimpse into the future of school bus transportation, the grants issued for these buses are not only a forward-thinking solution to improving air quality for students and their communities, but are also an important piece in moving the state toward the goal set by Governor Gretchen Whitmer of carbon neutrality by 2050.

While Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS) students will continue learning online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the AAPS buses remain a critical component of the online learning program by enabling delivering over 9,000 meals to students, twice a week, many whom qualify for free or reduced lunch in the Ann Arbor Public Schools.

The versatility of these zero-emission buses has already proven to be crucial in providing community support through the pandemic. In Roseville, the buses were used to deliver meals to children through the holiday break. In February, the zero-emission buses deployed to fulfill their original purpose, safely transporting students to school.

In addition to the environmental savings of the reduced greenhouse gas emissions, the new electric school buses are also estimated to provide more than 40% in savings over time on fuel and maintenance costs compared to traditional buses.

Along with the deployment of the buses, DTE will also pilot a Vehicle to Grid (V2G) Study. The V2G study will provide learnings on the effects of energy efficiency and the capabilities of the bus that are beneficial for both the school and the environment, like the ability for the bus battery to provide energy to the school during a power outage. The results of the study will also be used to develop programs that further benefit the schools based on the EV bus capabilities.

While these benefits are sure to make a positive impact in our community, their most important feature will be in offering greater safety to our students through a cleaner alternative to traditional buses.

If you’re interested in electrifying your fleet, or looking to amplify electrification efforts within your organization, contact DTE Energy’s Electric Fleet team at EVinfo@dteenergy.com.