kids running by school bus

Early leaders of Connecticut’s transition to school bus electrification shared their wisdom with CT’s school districts in a November 6th roundtable hosted by Greater New Haven Clean Cities (GNHCC). The panelists included Connecticut Technical High School System (CTECS) transportation lead, Lou Camacho;  Kevin DeVivo, General Manager, DeVivo Bus Sales/DATTCO; First Student’s Senior EV Principal Consultant, Kevin King; and Brendan Sharkey of Daisy Solutions/ACES Up.

A summary and recording follow below.  Slides are available for download.  A transcript of the roundtable is here.


In May 2022, Connecticut passed SB-4 /PA 22-25, setting a fleet electrification date of 2030 for school buses operating in environmental justice communities and 2040 for all CT school buses. As of November, 2023, 12 electric school buses are transporting CT school children, with state or federal funding committed towards 61 more buses and funding proposals pending on many more.  The roundtable participants gave us an insider’s view about the status of the early transition.

Tidbits from the Roundtable

We heard first from Lou Camacho about CTECS’ electrification journey. CTECS, supported by DATTCO, received funding for 25 electric school buses from the EPA’s 2022 Clean School Bus Rebate Program and is prioritizing deployment at its nine schools in environmental justice communities. They will use 19 kW Level 2 chargers, regulated by charge management software.  (We will be following CTECS’ journey and reporting on it in the future.)

Next, Kevin DeVivo shared DATTCO and DeVivo Bus Sales’ support of school districts across the state as both a transportation contractor and a bus dealer. Designated as Navistar’s East Coast Service Center, they are also preparing our state’s workforce for the transition to electric.  With eleven electric school buses on CT roads today, they’ve collaborated closely with Eversource to support complex infrastructure installations in Middletown and New Britain.

Kevin King then spoke to First Student’s experience operating the largest fleet of electric school buses in North America with 306 buses traveling 2.4 million miles. In addition to offering school transportation services, First Student offers electric school bus consulting to help districts including site assessments for infrastructure, innovative design, route planning, total cost of ownership evaluation, and more.

Brendan Sharkey wrapped up with ACES UP and Daisy Solution’s vision of creating a statewide network of chargers to reduce range anxiety by allowing bus drivers traveling beyond their daily routes (field trips and sporting events, for example) access to charging across the state. Additional offerings through the regional educational service center ACES include financing solutions to address infrastructure costs beyond those covered by grants and utility offerings, paid off through a component of every charging session.

Lessons Learned

Each panelist underscored the importance of planning for charging infrastructure early on, before bus acquisition. Because infrastructure timelines are often longer than bus delivery, starting the infrastructure process – design, planning, utility coordination – will help ensure that buses will arrive with charging  infrastructure in place. This rings especially true for the more complex DC fast chargers (DCFC), often requiring substantial site electrical upgrades and equipment delays., Lou brought in CTECS’ experience selecting the proper site, keeping in mind factors like flood probability.

To effectively prepare for the overall transition, Kevin King suggests including fleet electrification in your district’s strategic plan, exploring all potential funding opportunities, understanding their guidelines, applying early and often, and honing fleet operational expertise early.

The future

Connecticut is on an exciting and challenging path for school bus electrification. GNHCC is appreciative that these panelists along with our utilities and state agencies are here to support districts in their transition.

Keep an eye out for opportunities from the CT’s Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the CT Green Bank for new state funding and financing opportunities expected in 2025 to supplement federal funding.

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