California Panel Grants $2.9 Million for School Bus Bidirectional Charging

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The California Energy Commission (CEC), through its Clean Transportation Program, has granted a $2.9 million award to a project team led by The Mobility House to implement 12 bidirectional chargers at four California school locations.

Designated “Replicable V2X Deployment for Schools (RVXDS),” this project will utilize electric school bus fleets to mitigate regional grid emergencies — especially during peak summertime windows.

The project will use replicable, open standards throughout the vehicles, hardware and software. The Mobility House has assembled a team of partners including the World Resources Institute, Polara Energy USA and the Center for Transportation and the Environment to support Pittsburg Unified School District, Fremont Unified School District and the Napa Unified School District.

“Our interest is to establish real-world examples of V2G (vehicle-to-grid) projects that other districts can easily replicate,” says Greg Hintler, CEO of North America at The Mobility House. “Through this project, we aim to reduce congestion on the same circuits by reducing the need for imported power, thus benefiting three school districts, the state of California and grid reliability.”

The project will be among the first V2G connected systems installed in Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) territory. Three of the schools will export power from their buses during peak windows in the summer, earning the districts $2 per kWh through the Emergency Load Reduction Program (ELRP) and helping keep the distribution system of their communities from overloading. One school will use bidirectional functionality for V2B (vehicle-to-building) resilience to act as a community resilience hub at their high school.

All project findings will be captured in a blueprint report, providing guidance for districts across California on how to incorporate V2G into their school bus charging operations. This project will not only provide financial benefits, but also improve grid reliability, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support disadvantaged communities in times of grid interruption.

“This project is a game-changer for our district, marking a significant stride in our journey toward a sustainable future,” says Matthew Belasco, director of Maintenance, Operations and Transportation at the Pittsburg Unified School District. “It not only brings financial relief, but also strengthens our community’s resilience. We are thrilled to be part of this endeavor, demonstrating the potential of electric school buses to other districts across the state and setting a new standard for transportation in education.”

Photo credit: Pittsburg USD

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