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Mon Schools releases its report on electric bus plan

More than 32,000 miles in 18 counties, with nary a hitch.

The above means the BEAST didn’t do bad at all on West Virginia’s challenging two-lanes last November.

That’s BEAST, as in, “battery electric alternative school transportation,” the energy-efficient school buses GreenPower Motor Co. set loose on the Mountain State during a pilot program last November.

Monongalia County was one of those counties tapped for the study.

GreenPower CEO Fraser Atkinson discussed the exercise in energy and terrain earlier this month in Nevada, at the annual Green Bus Summit in Reno.

“West Virginia’s famously difficult roads,” he said, more than lived up to their billing.

Add West Virginia’s famously diverse weather in there, too, he said.

Single-digit mornings and 80-degree afternoons.

Rain, then snow, and rain again.

On the same bus run, even.

Temperatures in the teens while taking students to school — followed by 50-degree readings that afternoon on the return trip home.

Potholes, gravel and dirt roads.

“They weathered sun, rain, ice and snow,” the CEO said, “while successfully navigating mountainous roads with up to 9% grades.”

GreenPower these days is also successfully navigating West Virginia’s business map.

The company is currently building its buses in the Mountain State, in fact. A plant in Charleston opened last year, and the state’s top executive found his seat quick.

Gov. Jim Justice didn’t waste time writing a $15 million order for buses to be built for 41 of 55 counties here.

Call it an investment in savings, Fraser said.

That, he said, while leaving diesel at the bus stop.

Boone County Schools, for instance, spent $200 a month during the run of the pilot, opposed to the monthly cost of $900 a month for its diesel rides, the CEO said, in the breakdown.

Normal range for the BEAST is 140-150 miles per charge, he said, but Mon County School cruised past that threshold.

During one run in Mon, a driver coaxed 167 miles on one charge.