DETROIT—Students in the Ann Arbor and Roseville public school districts will soon ride some of the first zero-emission electric school buses in Michigan, funded by $1.5 million in grants secured by DTE Energy.

DTE announced that its partnership with Ann Arbor and Roseville schools had been selected by the state of Michigan to receive funding for six electric school buses and the equipment to charge them.

The High Point, N.C.-based bus manufacturer Thomas Built Buses Inc., a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America, debuted the buses last October in a partnership with battery system manufacturer Proterra Inc., based in Kansas City, Mo. The C2 “Jouley” bus seats up to 81, with a 120-mile range and a recharge time of four to six hours.

Under the grant, The Ann Arbor Public Schools will receive four buses and Roseville Community Schools will receive two buses. DTE will work with both districts to ensure the associated electric infrastructure is constructed to support the project. DTE also will partner with the schools to implement a vehicle-to-grid study, which will allow the utility to better understand the effects of battery storage technology.

“We’re excited to help bring clean electric transportation to thousands of Michigan students,” said Trevor F. Lauer, president and chief operating officer, DTE Electric. “This partnership and grant fits well with our commitment to advancing both STEM education and Michigan’s clean energy future.”

DTE has also joined with the Michigan Association of School Transportation to develop educational programs around the new buses. Students will see real-world applications of new innovations, such as the zero-emission electric technologies the buses employ, as part of their focus in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

“This is of significant importance because it is aimed at removing harmful emissions that expose school-aged children who utilize bus transportation,” said Debra Swartz, pollution prevention program analyst for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. “We feel this young population is particularly vulnerable in that respect.”

Added Marios Demetrious, assistant superintendent of the Ann Arbor Public Schools: “This is a progressive step forward for our schools and aligns nicely with our existing sustainability goals in the Ann Arbor community. We are thrilled to lead Michigan in the deployment of the latest transit technology for schools.”

And John Kment, superintendent of the Roseville Community Schools, said: “We look forward to deploying these electric buses in our district. Not only will they help us reduce our carbon footprint, but they will also serve as great educational opportunities for our students.  Our educators will use them to lead discussions on how we can all take steps to integrate cleaner energy into our daily lives.”

More about DTE’s sustainability efforts at journeyto80.com, a reference to DTE’s commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions more than 80 percent by 2040. More about DTE Energy, which owns an electric utility serving 2.2 million customers in southeastern Lower Michigan and a natural gas utility serving 1.3 million customers throughout Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas, at www.dteenergy.com.

This story was published in Technology Century.