CHARLESTON, W.Va. —  Kanawha County has its first electric school bus.

KCS Transportation Director Jason Redman signed the paperwork Friday for the GreenPower Beast model bus that rolled the company’s assembly line in South Charleston.

The bus will operate out of the St. Albans Terminal. (Photo/KCS)

“This is the first one built in West Virginia and it will have the capacity of 86 to 90 students,” Redman said.

GreenPower has produced several of its Nano Beast buses, which are smaller versions. Redman said it seems appropriate to have the first large model in Kanawha County.

“It’s a great opportunity for us for a bus built in Kanawha County to run on Kanawha County roads,” Redman said.

The bus, which cost $375,000, will run out of the St. Albans terminal. It will run a route that includes the Cross Lanes and Nitro areas.

GreenPower began rolling its Nano buses off the line last fall.

Overall, the company reported that by the fourth quarter of 2023, it had delivered 120 vehicles to customers nationwide, representing a six-fold increase from sales the year before. The state of West Virginia approved a purchase of 41 buses for a contract price of $15 million. The company also has orders from several other states.

Redman said he’s been on a GreenPower bus and everything ran smoothly. They took on a regular bus route and then on a trip to Milton to simulate a possible field trip.

“It worked great. There were no issues whatsoever,” Redman said.

Redman said the top priority for the buses is having the needed electric infrastructure in place. He said that’s why the first bus will operate out of the St. Albans Terminal.

“We have the charging infrastructure there. We’re setting it up and working with AEP,” he said.

Kanawha County Schools is scheduled to have four more GreenPower buses by early next year and an additional 21 by next July. Redman said that will represent about one-sixth of the county’s school bus fleet.

Funds from the state and federal government are financing the purchases. A DERA (Diesel Emissions Reduction Act) grant from the federal EPA paid half of the cost of the bus delivered Friday. Kanawha County Schools picked up the other half.

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