In the waning moments of the 2021 special legislative session, attempts to authorize Dominion Energy to implement an ambitious capital project to replace existing K-12 diesel buses with electrically powered vehicles failed. This is the second year in a row such legislation was defeated by the House of Delegates. Building on the 2019 launch of a pilot program to bring 50 electric school buses to a number of localities within Dominion’s service area, the utility seeks to scale up this endeavor to more than 1,000 vehicles.
As previously reported, as introduced, SB 1380 (Lucas) would expand the existing program to allow local school divisions to partner with Dominion to purchase up to 1,250 additional electric school buses. School divisions would be reimbursed for the purchase of the school buses and charging infrastructure. The use of electric school buses would serve as electric grid stabilizers by allowing the batteries needed to charge the buses to store and inject energy into the grid during periods of high demand when the buses are not being used for the transport of students. The incentive for Dominion to embark on this investment would be express authorization to seek rate adjustments to cover the costs of implementing this program.
Late Saturday, as deliberations on all remaining legislation were ending, the House rejected a modified version of the bill by a vote of 49 to 41. While the bill had the support from several school divisions and the Virginia Association of School Superintendents (VASS), opposition from several environmental groups expressing equity concerns over Dominion recouping the costs of the projects from rate payers lead to its demise.