National Strategies, LLC (NSI) announced it has won a $1.4-million grant from the California Energy Commission for an all-electric school bus demonstration program in California through the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). This is the largest electric school bus demonstration nationwide and the first to deploy vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology, said the partners.
The plan is to use more electric school buses for student transportation and, in the off hours, plug them into a power grid to help grid operators maintain and regulate its operation. The demonstration is part of a CGI–America Commitment to Action to assist in bringing zero-emission, all-electric school buses to market in the U.S.
Combined with a previously awarded grant from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, NSI now has $2.2 million to finance the development of six fully electric school buses. TransPower of Poway, Calif., is building the vehicles to be deployed by Torrance Unified School District (TUSD), Kings Canyon USD and Napa Valley USD later this year. Kings Canyon has already rolled out a Type-A electric bus by Trans Tech Bus and Motiv, and will receive a second SST-e model in time for the new school year.
“We are looking forward to working with all of the project participants in California to demonstrate that all-electric school buses can deliver students safely and cost effectively,” said Kevin Matthews, managing director of NSI and co-project director of the EV School Bus Demonstration program. “The project will show that we can remove children from diesel emissions and improve air quality while simultaneously reducing the cost of student transportation and supporting the utility grid.”
Additional Commitment to Action project partners include PJM Interconnection, E&Y, NRG, Drive Oregon, the County of Los Angeles and Drive Oregon.
Tracking Total Cost of Ownership
This project aims to show that the total cost of ownership of fully electric school buses is equal to or less than that of traditional diesel-powered school buses. Project managers will document the reduced costs of operating these electric school buses through lower fuel and maintenance expenses and the potential to generate revenue by supplying energy stored in the buses’ batteries back to the utility grid when not transporting students. The revenue-generation component of the demonstration is backed by new but proven V2G technology, the partners said.
Other areas to be studied include the all-electric school buses’ performance characteristics, range of operation, emissions reductions and vehicle-to-building (V2B) technology. With V2B, the school buses can provide power to buildings or other facilities during a power outage or post-disaster situation.
Matthews previously told STN that the partners may also create another working group with the aim of retrofitting existing school buses to electric. Either way, CGI project goals remain the same, he said: improving children’s health, air quality and the overall environment while promoting electric vehicles and assisting smart grids.