Electric School Bus Batteries to Support New York Grid in Summer

New York energy company Con Edison plans to use power stored in the batteries of electric school buses to support the grid during the hot summer months, when the buses are not transporting students.

Through the first project of its kind in New York State, according to Con Edison, the company will get 75 kW of power during the summer months from batteries on five buses operated by the White Plains school district. Con Edison will charge the batteries at times when demand for power is low and then discharge the power into the grid when demand is high – which usually occurs on weekday afternoons, when customers’ use of air conditioners is significant.

“We think school buses have unique potential to help us keep our service reliable and contribute to a clean environment,” says John Shipman, department manager of demonstration projects for Con Edison. “These buses will provide clean transportation for students during the school year and be available to us for grid support during the summer. There’s a nice fit between the school schedule and our customers’ need for power.”

“The White Plains School District is very excited at the prospect of using electric school buses,” notes Dr. Joseph Ricca, superintendent of schools in White Plains. “With Lion Electric providing five buses to our contractor, National Express, and the services of Con Edison, our children will experience the most technologically advanced means of transportation, and our community will benefit from the positive environmental impact. We’re anxious to roll out the buses in September and continue working to identify innovative and sustainable measures throughout our district.”

According to the energy company, the demonstration project is one of several initiatives by Con Edison to support the development of an electric vehicle market in New York City and Westchester County. If the project is successful, Con Edison may work with other school districts to electrify their fleets and gain more benefits for the grid.

Under the proposal before the New York State Public Service Commission, the White Plains district would put five buses on the road starting in the 2018-2019 school year. Con Edison is in ongoing discussions with the commission about the proposed program.

National Express would pay the energy costs during the school year, and Con Edison would pay National for the right to use the buses as a grid asset. First Priority Green-Fleet is coordinating the project.

Con Edison, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and National Express are sharing the costs of paying for the Lion Electric buses. Con Edison and National plan to pay for the chargers. The buses were purchased, in part, using rebates offered through the New York Truck Voucher Incentive Program, administered by NYSERDA.

“This demonstration project underscores the priority the state is placing on public-private partnerships that are working on innovative approaches in meeting Governor Cuomo’s clean energy goals to reduce harmful emissions from the transportation sector by ensuring cleaner alternatives of transportation are accessible to consumers,” says Adam Ruder, program manager for clean transportation at NYSERDA.

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