• First electric school bus on Salt Spring roads

    Gulf Islands Driftwood
    January 11, 2023

    Saltspring‘s First Electric Schoolbus
    The first students to ride School District 64’s new electric bus on Salt Spring arrive at GISS on Jan. 3.

    The bus fleet at Gulf Islands School District (SD64) officially began its transition to electrification after the winter break, as driver Rick Neufeld safely delivered the first students to Gulf Islands Secondary School at 8:37 a.m.Tuesday, Jan. 3, on SD64’s new fully electric school bus.

    District director of facilities, capital projects and transportation Colin Whyte said the bus would continue to run Route 6, which serves high school, Salt Spring Elementary and Phoenix Elementary students and runs chiefly along Long Harbour and Mansell roads. Once the district’s second electric bus is in service, it would pick up and delivers tudents on Route 2.

    “We’re still working on the big charger installs,” said Whyte, who said they were waiting on parts to have the charging system fully operational. “Once we get that installed we can run both buses. But we can run one to start, and we won’t have to burn any more diesel — at least for one route.”

    A feasibility study done in 2019 estimated a full transition to electric school buses would eventually save the district some $50,000 each year in fuel and maintenance costs. To facilitate the shift from diesel, the district is installing 20-kilowatt “Level 3” DC fast chargers; these will generally be charging buses during the day in between runs, as well as overnight.

    “It’s got enough kick to keep the buses charged, even if we bring them down to almost nothing,” said Whyte.

    In addition to not burning fossil fuels — or emitting exhaust — the buses are significantly quieter than the diesel vehicles they’re replacing. But Whyte said the new bus wouldn’t be sneaking up on any unsuspecting pedestrians.

    “Below 30 kilometres per hour, it has a noisemaker on it, so people can hear it coming,” said Whyte. “It turns off above 30 because the tires are making enough noise to be heard.”

    SD64 has said the district plans to gradually replace its diesel bus fleet with electric buses as existing vehicles age beyond service requirements.

    “Seeing students riding the first electric bus in the SD64 bus fleet is heartening,” said superintendent Scott Benwell.“It shows the district’s commitment to a reduced carbon footprint and is but one step in the overall adjustments to operations that will be necessary in the years to come.”

    First electric school bus on Salt Spring roads _ Gulf Islands Driftwood

    First electric school bus on Salt Spring roads

  • SSCE Partners with IWAV for Massive Solar Development

    SSCE provided technical expertise for the Croftonbrook solar project. We also provided project oversight, digital recording of the installation and will assist with the installation of education monitors in the buildings. We developed a Request For Proposal (RFP) process to select the solar energy contractor and assisted with funding development.

    Saltspring Exchange article


  • Alexander Croft Wins 2022 Solar Scholarship

    We are pleased to announce that this year’s winner of the Salt Spring Community Energy Solar Scholarship is Alexander Croft, who will be pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering at UBC starting this fall. His goal is to design more efficient, more sustainable systems and machines, helping to combat the climate crisis and moving away from fossil fuels.

    Alexander Croft – Bio
    My name is Alexander Croft, and I am a graduate of the GISS class of 2022. I will be attending UBC Engineering in September, which is a natural progression from my passion in math and the sciences at high school. As an active member of my local community I am a volunteer with the local Royal Canadian Marine Search And Rescue station on Pender Island and a bagpipe player in the Pender Highlanders Pipe and Drum band. I have played soccer throughout my time at GISS on the senior boys teams as well as in the Vancouver Island Premier League. I am a SCUBA diver and am passionate about protecting the environment. I hope to apply a degree in Mechanical Engineering to improve renewable energy systems and machines to play a part in fighting climate change.


  • SD64 to get Electric School Buses

    The Salt Spring Community Energy Society is gratified that the electric school bus study that we undertook a few years ago seems to have been a catalyst for the adoption of a electric school buses by the local school district.

    SD64 makes electric bus choice

    Minor bus route changes also on Salt Spring for next school year



    May 25, 2022

    The Gulf Islands School District (SD64) will be making changes in transportation this fall, hoping to bring in a new bus route on Mayne Island serviced by an electric bus and downsizing to seven buses on Salt Spring Island.

    Exactly when the district’s first electric bus will start operating on Mayne depends on global supply chains hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the district’s secretary-treasurer Jesse Guy explained. The same goes for two other electric buses ordered this spring, destined to replace two diesel buses on Salt Spring.

    The 45-minute, 25-kilometre Mayne Island run will serve around 20 students, with the exact route still to be determined.

    The school board has committed to phasing in electric buses as their diesel buses reach the end of their useful life. The education ministry covers bus replacement costs, with the district committed to covering the difference in cost of around 50 per cent more for an electric bus.

  • Aubrey Doobenen Wins Solar Scholarship

    Aubrey DoobenenWe are pleased to announce that Aubrey Doobenen is the winner of this year’s Solar Scholarship, a $1550 award that comes from revenue earned through the solar array atop the Gulf Islands Secondary School. Aubrey will apply the scholarship towards his tuition at Camosun College where he is training to become an electrician. Aubrey is also working as an apprentice with Akerman Electric, and hopes to use his new skills to work in the field of solar energy.

    Aubrey Doobenen Bio

    I was born and raised on Salt Spring Island and I have recently graduated from Gulf Island Secondary School. I have been working full time with Akerman Electric as an apprentice and I am excited to attend Camosun College and work towards completing my red seal as an electrician.

    I have a strong interest in renewable energy as I feel it is important to aim for a sustainable future. I look forward to being a part of the change as the future invests in the solar power industry. I enjoy music and have achieved level 4 Suzuki violin training as well as I play bass guitar. I’ve also played on soccer teams most of my life.


  • SD64 Electric School Bus Study

    Electric School Bus Feasibility Study

    Salt Spring Community Energy is excited to announce the release of its School District 64 (Gulf Islands) Electric School Bus Feasibility Study with the help of Quebec based electric bus manufacturer Lion Electric. The event will take place at the Public Program Room, Salt Spring Public Library on Friday, September 13 at 3pm.

    Electric school buses are a vital part of creating a safer, healthier environment and a brighter future for our children, according to Salt Spring Community director Kjell Liem. Liem says, “the wide-spread recognition of our climate emergency, as the planet heats up from greenhouse warming, compels us to transition quickly from fossil fuel transportation to low or zero-emissions vehicles. School buses are ideal candidates for this transition. Reducing green house gases and eliminating the harmful effects of diesel exhaust around children provides a compelling argument for electric school buses.”

    Salt Spring Community Energy, leaders in community-based renewable energy adoption and education, will release their much-anticipated Electric School Bus Feasibility Study for SD 64 Gulf Islands next Friday at the Salt Spring Public Library.

    The Study can be downloaded from the link below:
    SD64 Electric School Bus Study


  • Canadian-made Electric Schoolbuses!

    Salt Spring Community Energy sent board director Kjell Liem to the Association Of School Transportation Services of BC (ASTSBC) 54th Annual Conference to learn more about the plans for Electric Vehicle School Bus adoption and what that means for School District 64.

    The Clean BC Transportation team at the Ministry of Energy was in attendance and the consulting economist definitely had the province’s bus fleet on his radar to help meet the BC’s goal of a 60% emissions reduction from transportation by 2030. Also in attendance was a LION C, a Canadian-made electric school bus that was on its way to Sacramento, California.

    Lion C on trailer Lion C motor Lion C charging Lion C charging Harrison

  • Salt Spring Home & Garden Show

    Saltspring Home and Garden Show 2019

  • The CEG is now a society!

    Jae Mather, Executive Director of Clean Energy BC, gave an excellent talk at the event to celebrate our launch as a society at GISS on November 8th. Many thanks to Bill Warriner at Salt Spring Live for shooting and sharing the video of the talk.

    Nameserver 1: (
Nameserver 2: (

  • SD64 board votes to support proposal for EV

    Oct 16, 2018 Students in the Gulf Islands School District could be getting to school in a much greener way, after the school board voted to support in principle a proposal to bring in an electric school bus for the district.

    The Salt Spring Community Energy Society proposed the project as a partnership between the two organizations. The society presented the proposal to the board at the Oct. 10 meeting on Mayne Island. The intention is to conduct a feasibility study that would be the basis for fundraising for and commissioning of the school bus. SS Community Energy will provide funds for the study.

    “We’re willing to consider anything that reduces our carbon footprint,” said SD64 chair Rob Pingle. ‘The board was happy to approve the request. It’s going to take a lot of research and study to figure out if it works, but were willing to look into it.”

    According to a letter sent to the school board from the society, transportation contributes the largest portion of the school board’s greenhouse gas output. The plan for an electric school bus would reduce pollution, improve children’s health as well as with fuel and maintenance costs.

    “An electric school bus in the district will help to expand and show [the district’s] leadership and educational role in the community,” the letter read. “A district electric school bus will show that the district Is seriously moving toward a low-carbon, sustainable future.”

    The district voted to support the request, which gives SS Community Energy the go-ahead to begin their feasibility study. Though the study is not a guarantee of acquiring a new bus, it does give the board the framework to move forward in the case of ministry funding.

    “We would hope that the feasibility study would prepare us for the next time that we have access to funds from the province. We could consider taking on an electric bus and maintaining it,” Pingle said. “Helping ensure that we have the right information so that we can feel confident to take that move would be really helpful.”

    SS Community Energy aims to present their findings to the board in early 2019. Their study will look at the appropriateness of the school bus on the islands, any regulations that may affect the project, different options for bus construction or acquisition and financial implications of the project.

    Electric school buses are a relatively new concept for school districts. The idea already has traction in California, with multiple start-up companies building the vehicles. However, the Salt Spring proponents would have to ensure the bus’ feasibility on Salt Spring and in the Gulf Islands.

    “There was a bit of nervousness [at the meeting] about whether a large electric school bus with 64 seats would ever be feasible,” Pingle said.

    “At the same time, it’s the energy society that wants to do the work to figure that out and we would never stand in the way of that. It was more just speculation.”

    The school board partnered with SS Community Energy in 2014 to install an 84-panel, 21 kW solar array at Gulf Islands Secondary School. The energy savings have been used to create scholarships for students.

    BY MARC KITTERINGHAM Gulf Islands Driftwood Staff

renewable energy for saltspring