Dozens of Arlington Public Schools students now hop aboard the system’s first electric school buses.
When students returned from winter break, the county and APS replaced two of its 190 diesel engine buses with emissions-free “and almost noise-free” battery-powered electric ones, the county has announced.
The first two buses are transporting students with disabilities and can each carry up to 38 students. They are expected to log a typical 8,000 miles annually.
After the buses arrived in November, drivers and mechanics received vendor training. The third bus is expected to arrive by the end of January.
“Officials will study data, driving and service experiences with the new vehicles to explore possible expansion of the [battery electric school buses] inventory,” per the county press release.
The buses were purchased with a $795,000 state grant awarded in 2021. As part of the Clean School Bus Program, 19 Virginia districts were awarded with enough funding to replace a total of 83 diesel buses with electric or propane ones.
“Funding for the grant comes from the Volkswagen (VW) Environmental Mitigation Trust, intended to provide the state with about $93 million to mitigate the excess nitrogen oxide emissions caused by VW’s use of illegal emissions testing defeat devices in certain VW diesel vehicles,” the county said in a press release announcing the funding in August 2021.
The Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services Equipment Bureau services the school system’s fleet of vehicles as well as the county government’s entire fleet, from the Trades Center in Shirlington.
“The County is recognized as a leader in environmental sustainability efforts,” it said in its announcement. “This month, Arlington announced it had achieved its goal of 100% renewable electricity use at all County facilities, two years ahead of schedule.”
Arlington County adopted in 2019 a Community Energy Plan that aimed to power all county facilities with renewable electricity by 2025. Now, it has two more goals to tackle: By 2035, the county aims to power 100% of Arlington’s electricity with renewable sources, and by 2050, the county aims to be carbon neutral.
(Updated at 9:15 a.m. on 6/16/22) A new ordinance would mean no more free rides for users of county-owned electric vehicle charging stations.
A proposed interim fee of 14.52 cents per kilowatt-hour would reimburse the Arlington County for the cost of providing charging services, according to a report to the County Board, which will be taking up the item at its meeting this weekend. The new fee would go into effect on Monday, July 18, Department of Environmental Services spokesman Peter Golkin said.
Currently, there are seven available charging stations owned by the county, providing a total of 11 charging spaces for the public, at the Arlington Mill Community Center and the Long Bridge Aquatics Center.
If the proposal passes, the interim fee is set to remain in place while the county plans for expanding governmental electric vehicle charging stations.
Arlington’s Department of Environmental Services is hiring a consultant to come up with a “future recommendation on a permanent EV rate structure and charging model,” the board report says. The interim fee is set to serve as a pilot for the future plan.
The county has put signs up at the two charging stations it operates to inform users that the stations will no longer be free beginning in July, according to the report.
Although the proposed fee is higher than the current fee in neighboring Loudoun County, which charges per session, it is lower than other commercial stations. Those commercial stations charge between 22 cents per kilowatt-hour and 79 cents per kilowatt-hour, according to the board report.
Many charging stations operated by EVgo, the largest electric vehicle fast charging company in the U.S., charges around 36 cents per kWh.
The County Board is expected to vote this Saturday (June 18) to advertise the proposed change, before final approval at its Saturday, July 16, meeting.
Animal Shelter at Capacity — “Our dog kennels are at capacity (every single kennel is occupied)… but what about your home? That extra seat on your couch sure would be a lot cuter with a furry friend curled up on it.” [Animal Welfare League of Arlington, Fox 5]
Parents Peeved at Teacher Transfer — From an online petition with nearly 500 signatures: “Dr. Sharon Gaston has worked at Taylor Elementary school for 12 years as the lead reading specialist. For the past 11 years she was appointed under 2 different principals as their designee. This past school year she applied to be the principal and unfortunately was passed over. The new principal… is transferring her to a high school. Why? We want answers.” [Change.org]
APS Announces New Principals — “So happy and proud to announce that Ms. Frances Lee has been appointed as the next principal of Ashlawn Elementary! She is currently assistant principal of Escuela Key.” “At the April 28 School Board meeting, the School Board appointed Ms. Bridget Loft as the new Swanson principal. Her appointment is effective May 3.” [Twitter, Arlington Public Schools]
New Japanese Eatery at Mall Food Court — “Sarku Japan… The largest and most successful Japanese Quick Service Restaurant chain in the US is coming! Come celebrate the grand opening of Sarku Japan at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. Sample their famous signature chicken teriyaki at the food court.” [Twitter]
Arlington Man Sentenced for Bias Attack — “A man from Arlington, Virginia, was found guilty and sentenced Friday for a hate crime attack on two Latino construction workers back in 2019. A judge sentenced Kurt Madsen, 53, to 540 days — nearly a year and a half — in jail, but suspended his term to time served as long as he completes two years of probation. Before his trial, Madsen spent 160 days in jail.” [WTOP, U.S. DOJ]
Police Memorial Ceremony Planned — “The annual Arlington County Peace Officers Memorial Day Ceremony will be held on Tuesday, May 10 at 8 a.m. at the Arlington County Justice Center, 1425 North Courthouse Road… The public is invited; the event also will be live streamed through the county government’s Facebook page.” [Sun Gazette]
Metro Starting to Buy Electric Buses — “New details of Metro’s Zero-Emission Bus Transition Plan, presented at this week’s meeting of the Board of Directors, outlines how the agency will transition to a zero-emission bus fleet including testing and evaluation, infrastructure and facility upgrades, and procurement efforts.” [WMATA]
It’s Monday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 76 and low of 61. Sunrise at 6:10 am and sunset at 8:03 pm. [Weather.gov]
Today (Friday) marks the last day lawmakers can file legislation to be considered in the 2022 session.
Several of the bills Arlington County legislators introduced align with County Board priorities — from making permanent electronic participation in public meetings to increasing state funding for affordable housing and including race and ethnicity on driver’s licenses.
They’ve also introduced legislation to address issues that came up in the community last year.
After residents exposed poor living conditions at the Serrano Apartments to ARLnow, Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49) pre-filed a handful of bills aimed at strengthening tenant protections. Lopez also appears to have taken inspiration from the Advanced Towing saga with a bill that would make tow truck driver violations subject to the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.
Here’s a roundup of some other bills Arlington’s lawmakers put forward.
- Independent policing auditor: This bill, House Bill 670, would allow Arlington County to appoint an independent policing auditor who will support the law enforcement Community Oversight Board that was created out of the Police Practices Group recommendations. Del. Patrick Hope (D-47) is chief patron of the bill.
- Law-enforcement officers; conduct of investigation: HB 870, which Lopez introduced, would require an officer who was involved in a shooting to be interviewed within 24 hours of the incident.
- Beverage container deposit and redemption program: HB 826, introduced by Hope, would establish a beverage container deposit, refund and redemption program involving distributors, retailers and consumers. There would be an advisory committee, required reporting and civil and criminal penalties for violations.
- Packaging Stewardship Program and Fund: The bill, HB 918, would allow the state Department of Environmental Quality to charge sellers in the commonwealth a fee for the amount of packaging their products use and if they’re easily recyclable. Those fees would be paid into a fund and used to reimburse participating localities for expenses related to recycling, invest in recycling infrastructure and education and pay the program’s administrative costs. Lopez introduced the bill.
- Parking of vehicles; electric vehicle charging spots; civil penalties: Senate Bill 278 prohibits a person from parking non-electric vehicles in electric vehicle charging spots. It sets a civil penalty between $100 and $250 with the possibility the vehicle is towed or impounded. Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30) introduced the bill.
- Driving Decarbonization Program and Fund. This legislation, HB 351, would establish a program and a fund that would assist developers with non-utility costs associated with installation of electric vehicle charging stations. It was introduced by Del. Rip Sullivan (D-48).
- Insurance; paid family leave: SB 15, introduced by Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31), would establish paid family leave as a class of insurance that would pay for the income an employee loses after the birth of a child or because the employee is caring for a child or family member.
- Hospitals; financial assistance for uninsured patient, payment plans: This bill, SB 201, requires hospitals to screen every uninsured patient, determine if they’re eligible for financial assistance under the hospital’s plan and create a payment plan. The bill also prohibits certain collection actions. Favola introduced the bill.
- Constitutional amendment; marriage; fundamental right to marry, same-sex marriage prohibition: This constitutional amendment, SJ 5, would repeal the constitutional provision defining marriage as only a union between one man and one woman as well as the related provisions that are no longer valid as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2015. Ebbin introduced the amendment.
- Absentee voting; verification by social security or driver’s license number: SB 273, introduced by Ebbin, would make optional the current absentee ballot witness signature requirement. It would give the voter the option to provide either the last four digits of their social security number or the voter’s valid Virginia driver’s license number instead.
APS Getting EV Buses — “Arlington Public Schools (APS), working collaboratively with the County’s Department of Environmental Services (DES), will receive a $795,000 grant from the state, to be spent on three fully electric buses (EV buses) that will replace three with diesel engines. The EV vehicles, each with a capacity of some 65 passengers, will be equitably assigned to routes throughout Arlington. Currently there are no EV buses in the APS fleet of 200. The vehicles slated for replacement each travel some 8,000 miles a year.” [Arlington County, Gov. Ralph Northam]
No PARK(ing) Day This Year — “PARK(ing) Day is an annual international event where the public collaborates to temporarily transform drab parking spaces into small parks… Due to continuing COVID-19 issues, Arlington County will not participate in 2021 PARK(ing) Day. We hope to welcome participants back in 2022.” [Arlington County, Twitter]
USS Arlington to Help in Haiti — “The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24) departed Naval Station Norfolk to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to Haiti in support of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) led mission, Aug. 17.” [Navy]
Arrests in Ashton Heights Armed Robbery — ” The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is announcing the arrest of three suspects in an armed robbery that occurred during the early morning hours on Wednesday, August 18… At approximately 1:08 a.m., police were dispatched to the report of a robbery that had just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the two male victims and a witness were sitting at a bus stop in the 700 block of N. Randolph Street when the three suspects approached.” [ACPD]
Arlington Org Deals with Afghanistan Fallout — “The young women of Ascend were used to spending their days doing yoga, preparing for mountain climbing excursions and teaching women at mosques in Kabul how to read… After the Taliban swept through Afghanistan this week, retaking control after two decades as the Afghan government collapsed, most of Ascend’s participants have been sheltering at home in fear of reprisal. Some have destroyed documents that would associate them with the Arlington, Va.-based nonprofit group, and are pleading for assistance from its leadership to help them find refuge in other countries.” [Washington Post]
Arlington Bishop Talks About Trans Youth — “The topic of transgenderism is discussed routinely in the news, on television shows and in schools. This prevailing ideology — that a person can change his or her gender — is impacting Catholic families, too, said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington… Burbidge knows many will be criticized and ostracized for their belief that men and women cannot change their sex, but he asks the faithful to speak out anyway. ‘We cannot be silenced. The mandate to speak on this issue clearly and lovingly is greater than ever,’ he said.” [Catholic News Service]
Arlington is ‘Best City for Road Trips’ in Va. — “In each state, there are some cities with particularly novel and exciting opportunities to soak up some of the local history and culture without breaking the bank. From underrated smaller communities to large metropolises, these are the cities you want to hit on your road trip this summer in 2021.” [Insurify]
Attempted Art Theft from Garage — “4700 block of 36th Street N. At approximately 10:32 p.m. on June 23, police were dispatched to the report of a burglary in progress. Upon arrival, officers located the suspect on scene and detained him without incident. The investigation revealed the male suspect gained entry into the victim’s garage and attempted to remove paintings.” [ACPD]
W-L Softball Wins Regional Title — “It’s hard to lose if the opponents don’t score much, and that was the successful formula for the Washington-Liberty Generals en route to winning the 6D North Region Tournament championship. The girls high-school softball team (13-5) won the crown with a 4-0 record, defeating the host Langley Saxons, 4-1, in the title game. The region championship was W-L’s first in program history.” [Sun Gazette]
Pike Library Renovation Celebration — “The public is invited to attend the grand opening and community celebration of the newly renovated Columbia Pike Library on Thursday, July 8, 4-6 p.m. Join members of the County Board and Library Director Diane Kresh in the ribbon cutting ceremony, followed by family-friendly events, music and ice cream, and a tour of the transformed Library Branch.” [Arlington Public Library]
F.C. Cemetery Full of Arlington History — “An array of Arlington’s historic notables are buried across our southern border in Falls Church City. I received a tour of the open-to-the-public Oakwood Cemetery just off Roosevelt Blvd. behind Eden Center… Don’t miss the marker for Amanda Febrey, who died in 1913 of tuberculosis at age 14, and whose ghost is said to have haunted the clubhouse at Overlee swim club.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Metro Is Electrifying Its Bus Fleet — “Today, Metro’s Board of Directors.. took a major step toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving local air quality with the approval of a new Metrobus fleet strategy that would create a 100% zero-emission bus fleet by 2045, with a full transition to electric or other zero-emission bus purchases by 2030.” [WMATA]
Once can hardly go a block in some parts of Arlington without spotting a Tesla, but the vast majority of vehicles on local streets are still powered by fossil fuels.
The proportion of electric vehicles on the road is expected to increase, albeit gradually. The Edison Electric Institute expects 3.5 million electric vehicles to be sold annually in the U.S. in 2030; that compares to the total of 17 million vehicles sold last year.
The switch to electric will have a number of advantages: less noise along busy roads, lower operating and maintenance costs, and a cleaner environment.
From a WTOP article yesterday:
Switching to electric vehicles would save lives, time and money, and the D.C. area would be one of the prime beneficiaries, a new study finds.
The American Lung Association’s Road to Clean Air report placed D.C. among the top 10 metropolitan areas that would benefit from a switchover to electric cars, buses and trucks by the middle of the century.
Compared with a “business as usual” scenario, the D.C. area would see about 175 fewer premature deaths a year by 2050; nearly 3,000 fewer asthma attacks; about 12,000 fewer lost workdays per year and more than $2 million in public health benefits, the association said in a statement.
Today we’re wondering: how many Arlingtonians are planning to buy an electric vehicle over the next 10 years?
Photo via Twitter
This regularly-scheduled sponsored column is written by the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy team (AIRE). This county program helps you make smart energy decisions that save you money and leaves a lighter footprint on the environment.
As we move into Phase 2 opening, we will continue our virtual solar and electric vehicle (EV) co-op sessions.
More than 200 homeowners have already installed solar panels as part of our Solar and Electric Vehicle Charger Co-op.
This spring, we’ve already had more than 280 homeowners attend virtual co-op sessions. Sixty-nine families have already had their roofs screened, verified as viable for solar, and they have joined the Co-op.
This June, we’ll continue with 3 additional information sessions. Please RSVP and join us to learn more:
- June 23 — 6 p.m. Info Session link
- June 26 — 12 p.m. Info Session link
- June 30 — 12 p.m. Battery Storage 101 link
For those who may not be familiar, the Co-op helps Arlingtonians buy solar panels and EV chargers at a discounted price through bulk purchasing. The Co-op also provides support to participants to make the purchasing process easy. This year we will also provide information about storing your solar power at home in battery systems.
You can also take advantage of one of the last big federal solar tax credits. This year the solar tax credit will be 26 percent. In 2021, it will be 22 percent and in 2022 and beyond, it won’t be available for homeowners at all.
As you quarantine at home, use this opportunity to learn more about solar power, electric vehicle charging and solar battery storage. Take action today to help our community be carbon neutral by 2050.
Delivery trucks are a frequent topic of complaints from Arlington residents.
Aside from double parking issues, they’re noisy and polluting. When you live near a truck loading dock, you often dread early morning deliveries and the “beep beep beep” of a truck going in reverse. The county often requires that new developments limit loading dock hours, as a condition of approval.
But what if the noisy idling, shrill beeps and diesel fumes could be a thing of the past? That is a future that Arlington County Board member Erik Gutshall is seeking to hasten.
Electric trucks, which are poised to become an increasingly common sight on the roads over the course of the decade, are the solution to many of the current delivery truck complains. Gutshall says Arlington County should take proactive measure to encourage their adoption — “some extra oomph,” as he puts it.
Cautioning that “the idea is very conceptual at this point,” Gutshall said the general idea would be to give electric delivery trucks special privileges, via development site plans and other regulatory means, for things like longer loading dock hours and designated curbside loading spaces on public roads.
Rewarding electric truck owners, instead of punishing fossil fuel truck owners, should “stay within a legally defensible framework” when it comes to the Dillon Rule in Virginia, he said. And if it doesn’t, the now-Democratic controlled state legislature could also carve out permission for localities to pass such ordinances.
“Update the regulations to accommodate the reality of modern life,” he said.
Gutshall plans to raise the idea, which he tweeted about last month, with his colleagues on the County Board in the near future — perhaps during an upcoming discussion on curbside management. Should it prove politically feasible, the next steps would include a public engagement process and legal review.
— Erik Gutshall (@erik4arlington) January 13, 2020
Electric trucks will come with the added benefit of helping Arlington achieve some of its Community Energy Plan goals.
“This is not just an Arlington issue,” Gutshall told ARLnow. “There are lots of other communities developing climate action plans and everyone knows that vehicle emissions are a huge part of the overall emission profile.”
“Any boost we can give to push early adopters out of the nest,” Gutshall said, will “help get other jurisdictions to do the same.”
Photo via Tesla
This fall, a pair of electric school buses will replace two older diesel buses in the Arlington Public Schools fleet, the first trickle of an expected wave that could convert the fleet to 100 percent electric by 2030.
Dominion Energy is helping to supply the two buses, and 48 others, to 16 Virginia localities, including Arlington. Alexandria, Fairfax County, and Prince William County are among the jurisdictions receiving new buses from Dominion.
“We will be getting two buses sometime in the fall,” APS spokesman Frank Bellavia confirmed to ARLnow this afternoon, following the Dominion announcement. “They will replace two buses that are next in the replacement cycle.”
The new buses will be manufactured by Thomas Built Buses, a traditional school bus manufacturer that is now producing electric models. Dominion is offsetting additional expenses associated with the electric school buses beyond the cost of a standard diesel bus.
The power company is working on a multi-phase plan to move Virginia school divisions to all-electric school bus fleets by 2030. Beyond environmental benefits, Dominion says the buses will be used, essentially, as batteries on the power grid to help supply more electricity during peak times.
More from a press release:
The electric school buses will serve as a grid resource by creating additional energy storage technology to support the company’s integration of distributed renewables such as solar and wind. The “vehicle-to-grid” technology leverages the bus batteries to store and inject energy onto the grid during periods of high demand when the buses are not needed for transport. The buses also provide environmental and health benefits through reduced emissions and reduce operation and maintenance costs for schools by up to 60 percent.
“We are excited to move forward with our commitment to bringing the benefits of electric school buses to the customers and communities we serve,” said Dominion Energy Chairman, President and CEO Thomas F. Farrell, II. “This is an innovative, sustainable solution that will help the environment, protect children’s health, make the electric grid stronger, and free up money for our schools.”
This initial deployment will bring electric school buses to each of the company’s operating regions. Localities were selected based on the benefit the batteries would bring to the electric grid. […]
This is just the first step in a larger initiative to replace diesel-powered buses with electric buses. Phase two of the project, with state approval, would expand the program to bring at least 1,000 additional electric school buses online by 2025. Once phase two is fully implemented, the buses’ batteries could provide enough energy to power more than 10,000 homes. Phase three would set the goal to have 50 percent of all diesel bus replacements in Dominion Energy’s footprint be electric by 2025 and 100 percent by 2030.
Photos via Thomas Built Buses/YouTube