Wilson Sonsini Advises Highland Electric Transportation in $169 Million Electric Bus Deal, Largest of Its Kind in U.S.
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On February 23, 2021, the Board of Education in Maryland's Montgomery County voted unanimously to approve a 16-year, $169 million contract to lease 326 buses, part of a plan that could result in the county replacing its entire 1,422-bus fleet over the next two decades. The vehicles will be built by Thomas Built Buses, a division of Daimler AG, with electric battery technology provided by Proterra, in a deal coordinated by Highland Electric Transportation. Highland will provide buses, install charging facilities at the county's bus depots, and train drivers. The company will also provide maintenance and manage the charging operation. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati represented Highland Electric Transportation in the deal.
The county estimates that the costs will be in line with what it would have spent on diesel buses and operations. Todd Watkins, the transportation director of Montgomery County Public Schools, said the deal allows the county to avoid high up-front costs and predicted the costs of electric buses would continue to drop as more districts ditch the diesel-powered vehicles that have been standard for generations. Duncan McIntyre, chief executive officer of Highland Electric Transportation, said the plan is a “scalable transition to electrification” that is “almost 100 percent privately financed.”