A new report from the United States Public Interest Research Group (US-PIRG) outlines ways that utility companies and school districts can come together to deploy electric school buses across the country.
Electric school buses are ready to roll—the technology is here, and protecting school children from noxious diesel fumes is a cause that draws a lot of support. However, the higher up-front cost of e-buses puts many school districts on the struggle-bus, so to speak. Fortunately, federal grant programs and loans are available, and the prospect of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology opens up the possibility of cooperating with local utilities.
The new report, Accelerating the Transition to Electric School Buses, details ways in which school districts, utilities and local government can work together to speed the transition to zero-emission buses.
“Electric utilities have a lot to gain from the large-scale adoption of electric school buses, and could play a major role in supporting the transition,” US-PIRG explains. “Electric buses can expand and stabilize the grid, provide surplus energy storage, and increase energy demand. By providing discounted rates on electric bus charging and building charging infrastructure, utilities can help speed the adoption of electric buses. Utilities can also support electric buses by investing in infrastructure for bus charging in depots and on routes, helping to finance the upfront purchasing costs of electric buses, and introducing smart charging systems to maximize integration of renewable energy.”
Several utility companies have already launched programs to help school districts adopt electric buses, including Dominion Energy in Virginia and Portland General Electric in Oregon.
Vehicle-to-grid technology, which allows buses to send stored energy back to the grid, is particularly well-suited to school buses. It can be a win-win proposition, offering a valuable service for utilities and income for school districts.
US-PIRG’s report contains a number of recommendations for school districts, lawmakers and utilities, along with details on how to leverage existing programs to accelerate e-bus deployment.