A three-year test run of two hybrid buses in the Schenectady school district is under way to help develop information on fuel economy.
Officials from the New York Power Authority and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority announced the partnership with the district at Zoller Elementary School Wednesday morning.
The state purchased two buses from Leonard Bus Sales of Deposit, near Syracuse. One is a standard diesel hybrid and the other is a hybrid that has the ability to plug into an electrical outlet to regenerate power. Both vehicles will be driven by Brown Transportation under the same conditions and routes as a conventional diesel bus. Data regarding fuel efficiency and emissions of the two hybrids and a conventional bus will be tracked over the next 36 months and compared.
Superintendent Eric Ely said he is pleased the district was selected for this study.
“It’s quite an opportunity for us to really see the value of alternative energies and how we can save the taxpayers’ money and the environment at the same time,” he said.
The cost of the project is $664,000, with $297,000 coming from the power authority, $210,000 from NYSERDA and $157,000 from the National Association of State Energy Officials State Technologies Advancement Collaborative.
Power authority President and Chief Executive Officer Richard M. Kessel said the state needs to focus on alternative energy.
“One of the reasons we have such a tough economy right now is our overdependence on oil and fossil fuels,” he said.
Kessel said the state selected three districts located in urban, rural and suburban areas for the study. Schenectady is fulfilling the suburban component.
IC Bus, an affiliate of Navistar International, constructed the buses, which are equipped with engines by the California-based Enova Systems.
Robert Brown, president of Brown Transportation, said all three buses will be running their normal routes and the drivers will be rotated every two weeks so they are on different buses.
Kerry-Jane King, senior transportation specialist for the power authority, explained that the conventional hybrid bus regenerates power when the brakes are used. “It’s capturing wasted energy and recycling it,” he said.
The plug-in hybrid also has that braking technology but allows the bus to plug in to draw power from the electrical grid.
Consultant M.J. Bradley & Associates of New Hampshire will study how the difference in bus routes, average speeds, number of stops, elevation of the road and idling time affect the performance of the different buses.
Robert Callender, acting president and chief executive officer of NYSERDA, said the technology is promising.
“Hybrid bus technology increases the miles driven to fuel consumed ratio well above that of a standard diesel bus,” he said.
Mayor Brian U. Stratton and Assemblyman George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, were also on hand for the news conference.
The Shenendehowa Central School District will also take part in the first year of the study by providing data from its own plug-in hybrid. The district began using hybrid buses in 2006.
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