First Student Inc., First Transit Inc. and NextEra Energy Resources LLC have entered into a framework agreement and are working toward a joint venture to pursue the electrification of tens of thousands of school and public transportation vehicles across the U.S. and Canada.
The transition to electric vehicles (EVs) is expected to play a critical role in helping communities improve air quality and environmental health for student passengers, transit riders and area residents. In addition, utilizing the sizable batteries of school and public transportation EV fleets for distributed energy storage and grid services has the potential to make a significant contribution to long-term sustainable clean energy transition in North America.
“The growing shift away from internal combustion engines is expected to drive over one-fifth of U.S. energy demand by 2050,” says John Ketchum, president and CEO of NextEra Energy Resources. “Working with First Student and First Transit will enable future investments in electrification upgrades and charging stations, as well as energy management services. This collaboration is consistent with our strategy as we continue to explore potential opportunities for electric and hydrogen transformation of the transportation sector.”
The U.S. and Canada combined represent the largest homogeneous student transportation market in the world, with approximately 520,000 yellow school buses in total. This market has remained consistent in size over time, with certain favorable factors driving fleet conversion to EVs and potential V2G development:
-Increasing demand for clean, pollution-free school buses from schools, communities, parents and student passengers
-Strategic location of school bus depots for installation of necessary charging, storage and grid connection infrastructure
-Low utilization and predictable daily schedules of school buses, providing greater opportunity to optimize power charging and balance the grid
The companies are collaborating to address these market opportunities by first capitalizing on First Student’s fleet of 43,000 yellow school buses, the single largest fleet in North America – and nearly 500 depots located across 40 U.S. states and seven Canadian provinces. Combining this scale with NextEra Energy Resources’ expertise is anticipated to help accelerate electrification from individual pilots to broader fleet rollout across the U.S. and Canada.
Photo: First Transit’s landing page