Palermo School District partners with EV charging solutions provider


Adding another school district looking to electrify its fleet to its growing list of customers, AMPLY Power has been selected to fully manage the charging of electric school buses for the Palermo Union Elementary School District. The zero-emission commitment from the school significantly lowers operating and fuel costs for the district to 50 percent of what it previously paid when charging its electric buses and reducing students and the local community’s exposure to diesel particulate pollution.

The public school system in Northern California’s Butte County has contracted an energy rate of $0.10/kWh through AMPLY’s fully-managed, turnkey charging services. The cost of electricity without managed charging could be as high as $0.20/kWh. In dollars per gallon terms, that energy cost means Palermo is effectively paying $1.19 a gallon to power its vehicles. AMPLY’s services for Palermo include supporting the sourcing of the final funding to secure the project, installing charging stations and onsite energy storage, warranty coverage, guaranteed uptime, a resilience plan, and energy bill management through 2026.

Palermo’s electric bus fleet makes up 80 percent of its total fleet and currently includes five Lion Type-C electric buses, with a smaller Type-A Blue Bird electric bus planned for 2021. The project’s hardware includes six 16.2kW Level 2 chargers and approximately 700kWh of lithium-ion battery storage. AMPLY helped move the project forward and advocated for the district to secure $49,839 in funding from the Butte County Air Quality Management District. PG&E also provided $35,488 in charger rebates and “make ready” Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) incentives, bringing the total funding amount to $85,327. This financial support eliminated the need for any upfront investment by the school district.

“Since most fleets have difficulty measuring the fiscal portion of energy usage, the ability to have full insight into a fixed rate allows for planning, financial management, and budgeting that opens the door to scale zero-emission initiatives,” remarked Vic Shao, founder, and CEO of AMPLY Power. “With off-peak charging rates as high as 19 cents a kilowatt-hour, and on-peak as high at 39 cents, the school district now has the peace of mind that it won’t be hit with peak rates for charging or unexpectedly high utility bills.”

“Although the coronavirus pandemic created several obstacles for us, we were able to start using our electric fleet in November of 2020 as our schools opened for in-person instruction four days per week. On March 10th of 2020, we returned to five-day, in-person instruction, which allowed more students to be on campuses and more students requiring transportation. Everyone is grateful to be back to school, and our drivers are especially excited about our electric fleet,” said Carlos Aguilar, Director of Maintenance, Operations, and Transportation for Palermo Union School District. “While transitioning to electric can be intimidating and costly, AMPLY’s comprehensive and scalable charge management services are taking the planning and management burden off our staff and replacing it with confidence in our fleet’s performance and predictable, fixed fuel pricing.”

Palermo participated in PG&E’s EV Fleet program, which helps customers convert their medium-duty, heavy-duty and off-road fleets to clean electric vehicles. PG&E helped the school district by designing, paying for and building a large portion of the electrical infrastructure for their EV charging stations.

“This project was a great fit for our Community Air Protection Incentives program,” said Jason Mandly at Butte County Air Quality Management District. “Palermo Union School District’s collaboration with AMPLY achieves our goals of prioritizing zero-emission infrastructure and reducing exposure to air pollution at schools.” The Community Air Protection Incentives program was funded by California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment.

AMPLY’s Charging-as-a-Service (CaaS) model goes beyond making it simpler for fleets to transition to electric. It assumes end-to-end responsibility for all charging aspects of the initiative, from cloud-based system design to installing local site controllers. Its proprietary back-end software and operational methods drive utility costs down by optimizing EV charging and other energy use at public and private depots. Coupling this process with utility service upgrades as needed enables the district to scale its fleet electrification program further.

“Turnkey charging simplifies electrification for school districts, and AMPLY is proud to play an active role in minimizing harmful bus emissions that can impact student performance,” added Shao of AMPLY Power. “We are dedicated to helping any fleet, be it public or private, to feel secure in knowing their electrification program is under the watchful, expert eye of AMPLY, and their costs and uptime guaranteed.”