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Working With Your Utility Company to Electrify Your Fleet
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Working With Your Utility Company to Electrify Your Fleet

While it is true that every school and district presents a different challenge based on their size, geographic area, current fleet and available space, you should not be deterred from switching over to electric vehicles. We are here to help you every step of the way, but one of the most important relationships you’ll have during the process is with your local utility company.

Your electric supplier plays a vital role in your journey to the electrification of your fleet and it is paramount to get them involved early on in your project planning.

Here is a simplified checklist of things to review and prepare when considering if your district is ready for electrification:

  • Do you have a contact at your local utility company?
  • Are there permits you will need to obtain? The earlier you can establish this the better things will go. Each region and municipality can have different rules.
  • What kind of charging stations will you need? Due to supply chain issues, production times are slow. Knowing the kind of buses you need and the size of those bus batteries will help you plan.

My advice is to be prepared to follow up on a regular basis with the utility company. Changing your fleet to electric buses is mutually beneficial to you and to the utility company so lean on them for support. Don’t be timid to push them. They are juggling multiple projects at any one time, and you want to keep your project top-of-mind.

Before you begin planning to move to an electric fleet there are some things you should know. The process, including permitting, manufacturing, site surveys and utility work, generally takes about 18 months. In simple terms, you can expect to follow a schedule like this:

  • Design phase
  • Obtaining permits
  • Working with the utility company
  • Ordering your equipment
  • Building your site
  • Installation of operational chargers
  • Electric buses delivered
  • Training for the entire operations team and drivers

The industry and technology are constantly changing, and it is important that you have a partner that you trust. We speak the language; we understand the workflow and we have relationships across the country with manufacturers and utility companies. Along with your utility company, we will help you determine what the electrical load will be and when you will need to charge your buses based on your routing, climate and intended equipment. We will work with you to determine if your current system will need an upgrade and everything in between.

First Student has a detailed process and insights attained from our operations experience and validated through the successful implementation of the largest, active electric school bus fleet deployment in the Quebec province of Canada where 200+ electric school buses are already transporting students and continue to add 10-15 units per month. We are experienced and ready to take on your challenges too!

Reach out to our consulting department if you’d like to set up a call to learn more at

About the Author

Lloyd Ickes is a Sr. Project Manager with over 25 years of experience in all phases of federal, state and private infrastructure project development.  Lloyd has previously held the positions of Sr project manager for Electric vehicle construction with 7-eleven, National Construction Manager for Electrify America, Sr. Project Manager for Chugach Federal Services and CEO/Co-founder of G & T Construction.  Lloyd is also a retired E7 from the USAF.