Marathon Board of Trustees discusses electric school buses

(Photo via Unsplash).

A grant that could bring up to three electric school buses to the village of Marathon is facing some challenges.

At a recent Board of Trustees meeting, village mayor Scott Chamberlin said while Marathon Central School District may have its ducks in a row, the village may not be able to supply enough power.

“We probably can’t provide enough power to charge,” he said. “The current transformer situation up there won’t allow for the increase in power.”

Chamberlin said he has had conversations with the village’s electric superintendent Eric Leete, who has said upgrades to the infrastructure complicate the situation. On top of that, the school district may also need to train staff to get ready for new transportation.

“They also have to buy a generator and in case the power goes out so they can charge their buses with a generator and train the people on how to work on these things,” he said.

At the meeting, Chamberlin said he would meet with school district officials soon to figure out a resolution.

“We do need to discuss not only supplying power, but by supplying additional power. It’s going to create a need for our incremental power in the winter months when our purchase power agreement charge (PPAC) kicks in,” he said. “This means the entire municipal electric district gets to pay for these buses. I don’t think that is fair.”

A PPAC fluctuates monthly, and is adjusted up and down based on the power bills received for supplemental power. This figure, according to National Grid, is multiplied by consumption for the month to arrive at the PPAC charge on the bill. The PPAC allows electric companies to recover these continually changing charges, without having to file new rates annually with the state’s Public Service Commission.

Clerk Laura Padbury said the village is going to need an analysis of costs.

“It just can't be ‘okay, bang, here are the chargers, and we’re gonna start doing it.’ It’s got to be a complete map analysis,” she said. “Somebody's got to give Leete the information of how much the buses are going to charge, how much does it take to charge these, and how long does it stay charged?”

For Padbury, things are more complicated.

“But on my side, the billing side, is going to be a nightmare, because I don't know how to break it down,” she said.