Take Charge: Infrastructure, Charging, & Energy Storage

Fleet electrification is undoubtably a complex process, and with a seemingly exponential increase in grants and incentive programs, school districts with secured funding will now need to consider their next steps in planning a successful and seamless transition to a low- or zero-emissions future.

You have secured funding. Now what?

When it comes to implementing a safe, reliable, environmentally friendly, and cost-efficient transportation platform, conducting a high-level needs assessment is the first of several incremental steps that contribute to a seamless transition in electrifying your fleet.

While no one can predict the future, we always encourage our customers to take a step back and evaluate their district’s long-term needs, funding or no funding. An effective needs assessment is vital not only in understanding how your fleet might need to scale over the next several years, but in developing a successful strategic plan to navigate the most complex and costly elements of this transition. 


The biggest change most school bus operators will experience through electrification is in the garage. Safe and effective infrastructure installation can often take years to develop and, in many cases, will require a complete upgrade to a facility’s electrical framework in order to accommodate the number of chargers that might be needed, both now and in the future. This phase can often be the most costly element of the process and, as with any sizeable capital project, it is best to invest in the time and expertise of a trusted advisor to design a charging infrastructure that will meet your fleet’s needs for years to come.


Electricity should be addressed as early on as possible. One of the first steps in assessing any new project is to conduct a site survey to determine whether or not it will be necessary to add capacity in the future. It is important to work closely with both the charging company and local utility to identify and design the appropriate power requirements and charging infrastructure to ensure charger operability. The objective is to have all charging hardware fully operational prior to delivery of the vehicle. You will also want to evaluate where and how vehicles will be parked and charged to maximize space and streamline schedules, taking into consideration future growth of zero emission vehicles.

Power requirements and charging schedules 

For utilities that offer demand charges or time-of-use rates, planning to charge during off-peak hours is essential to take advantage of lower electricity rates. Oftentimes, a utility provider will demand a surcharge for using over a given number of kilowatts within a certain time frame. By installing chargers that allow operations to schedule when a vehicle receives a charge, you can smooth out electricity demand, and help minimize additional constraints that EVs often place on a fleet. This is a serious but necessary planning exercise to realize projected operational savings for EVs while ensuring reliable operations.

Selecting the right vehicle for your operation

Ideally, selecting a compatible electric school bus (ESB) for your fleet should go hand in hand with infrastructure planning and installation. This will help ensure a smooth and seamless deployment for your operation.

When it comes to selecting the right ESB for your fleet, there are a few things to consider. Ensure the charger hardware, charger software, and vehicle are all compatible; the battery specification and the battery capacity should provide you with the “true” range considering operating environment and vehicle specifications; and all hardware or software platforms should provide the necessary data for fleet management, business manager, and future reporting requirements. 

When evaluating the viability of electric school bus adoption, customers need to understand the value electrification brings to their fleet. That requires finding a reliable and trusted ESB partner that will give you the confidence to plan and execute a safe, seamless and cost-effective transition.

AJ Palmisano serves as director – zero emissions charging and infrastructure for IC Bus. Visit www.ICBus.com for more information.