Charged up and ready to go: electric school bus ready to hit the road in Mercer County

Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 3:58 PM EDT
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PRINCETON, W.Va. (WVVA) - The first electric school bus in Mercer County will soon begin taking students to-and-from class. It will be used for six weeks as part of a pilot program. Mercer County is the first district in the state to test drive the new wheels.

“My board president Greg Prudich and I were talking when we had the secretary of energy in Charleston and I thought anything we could do differently, innovative. You know that’s what it’s all about. Teaching and learning with our kids and doing things differently than what we did,” said Mercer County Superintendent, Ed Toman.

The bus can hold 13 more passengers than a standard bus and can go 150 miles on a full charge. It also has a feature to charge itself when it brakes.

“You can look at overall cost and maintenance to being 70 to 80 percent less on this vehicle than a traditional diesel. Those numbers aren’t based off of the last six months of ridiculously high prices we’ve had. That’s based on real world prices that we see over the long term and the cost of diesel,” said Mark Nestlen a representative with GreenPower Motor Company.

“We’ve got to move forward, times are changing. We’re still going to be coal based for years and years to come. In my lifetime at least. This is something that we can start improving on everyday and with the technology,” said Del. Doug Smith (R-27th).

The bus will pick up its first passengers Wednesday morning. Driver Tony White will be at the helm.

“I guess you could say excited. I’m more anxious than anything. I like new things and I’ll let you know exactly what I think of this new bus,” said White.

Kanawha and Cabell County Schools will also be testing electric buses as part of the program.