Electric car charger

The electric vehicle charging station behind the town offices in Bennington.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.  

TOWNSHEND — The brakes have been hit on plans to try to bring electric buses to the West River Education District.

At the School Board meeting last week, Todd Lawley of West River Transportation said the current owners of the buses don’t want electric buses on their private property on Brookline because they aren’t “environmentally safe.”

“The batteries are a huge issue,” he said. “I could go on for quite a while on how unsafe these buses are.”

His group, with which the district is in the first year of a five-year contract, estimates charging stations for buses cost $40,000 and power upgrades needed would cost another $60,000.

An attempt at applying for a grant to provide seed money for an electric bus and a charging station proved unsuccessful, Paul Paytas of West River Valley 100 Percent Renewable said. The project was undertaken last summer for the district made up of public schools in Newfane, Townshend and Jamaica.

“It didn’t work out for various reasons,” Paytas said.

The plan now is to see if the Windham Central Supervisory Union Board would like to create a transportation committee. Windham Central includes WRED and others based in Dover, Marlboro, Stratton, Wardsboro and Windham.

Support our journalism. Subscribe today. →

Paytas said the committee could “try to coordinate all of the players that would be involved in looking at moving forward to electric buses for the district.” Such parties would include school officials and West River Transportation.

“We all know that climate change is here and we are trying to respond it as well as other factors such as increase in cost for diesel fuel and so forth,” Paytas said.

WRED Board member Drew Hazelton noted the district didn’t go electric when new vehicles were recently purchased.

“We were very quick to want to push our bus company into electric buses yet we weren’t willing to take the leap when it was our money and our responsibility and our job to take charge of things,” he said.

Lawley pointed out none of the schools in the district has a charger for electric vehicles.

“So it’s kind of like you’re not promoting this at all,” he said.

Greg Frost, director of operations at Windham Central, said the proposed committee could help shape transportation for the future of the supervisory union — not just explore electric buses. Superintendent Bill Anton plans to put the topic on the agenda for the Windham Central Board meeting on May 31.