Red Lake School District #38, Minnesota's school district in the Red Lake Nation, has partnered with Highland Electric Fleets, a school bus fleet Electrification-as-a-Service (EaaS) provider in North America, for two Blue Bird Type C electric school buses to serve the district's 1,560 students and install two chargers for its bus depot.
"Red Lake School District is very honored to be the recipient of these two electric school buses. Schools are leaders within their communities, and, as such, schools educate leaders of the future, so it is important that school districts pave the way with initiatives such as sustainable energy programs. This important partnership also shows our Indigenous community that they have as much a right to such cutting-edge technology as any other community in the nation," said Tim Lutz, Red Lake Schools Superintendent.
Under the partnership, Red Lake Schools will be able to assist Indigenous students in America and proceed with utilizing funds from Round 1 of EPA's Clean School Bus Program (CSBP), which awarded $790,000 for the procurement of the buses and chargers to the district.
While Highland Electric Fleets offers a turnkey suite of solutions by combining private capital with public funding, it also removes the upfront costs for school districts to upgrade their bus fleets to electric.
The company is responsible for procuring the buses and charging equipment, electrifying the bus depot, covering electricity, maintenance, and labor costs, training bus drivers and mechanics, managing charging and potential vehicle-to-grid (V2G) participation, and guaranteeing bus performance for the duration of the contract.
All the costs are less or equal as compared to the current expenditure on transportation by the district.
"This is an incredible opportunity to support the Red Lake Nation and the state of Minnesota in their journey to bring cleaner transportation to their students and community," said Duncan McIntyre, CEO and Founder at Highland. "Enabling smaller rural districts like Red Lake Schools with equitable solutions for their buses is a priority for us and proves that electrification can be simple, accessible, and affordable for all."