Zum to Convert Oakland School Bus Fleet to 100% Electric, V2G Capability


Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) will be the first major school district in the U.S. to transition to a 100% electrified school bus system with vehicle-to-grid technology.

Zum is providing a fleet of 74 electric school buses and bidirectional chargers, managed through its AI-enabled technology platform. The all-EV fleet will not only transport students sustainably, but also play a critical dual role as a virtual power plant (VPP), giving 2.1 GWh of energy back to the power grid at scale annually.

“We at Zum strongly believe it is time to move beyond pilots and deploy sustainability solutions at scale,” says Ritu Narayan, founder and CEO of Zum. “Converting the Oakland Unified school bus fleet to 100% electric with VPP capability is the right step in that direction.

“This historic milestone is a win-win proposition,” adds Narayan. “Electric school buses with V2G provide students with cleaner, fume-free transportation and allow us to send untapped energy from the bus batteries back to the grid, creating an enormous impact on grid resilience. Zum is proud to have delivered on this ambitious project a year ahead of schedule.”

Student transportation is the largest mass transit system in the nation, moving 27 million students twice daily. Today, over 90% of the nation’s 500,000 school buses run on carbon-based fuels, releasing over 8.4 million tons of greenhouse gases annually.

“Oakland becoming the first in the nation to have a 100% electric school bus fleet is a huge win for the Oakland community and the nation as a whole,” says Kim Raney, executive director of Transportation at OUSD. “The families of Oakland are disproportionately disadvantaged and affected by high rates of asthma and exposure to air pollution from diesel fuels. Providing our students with cleaner and quieter transportation on electric school buses will be a game-changer, ensuring they have an equitable and stronger chance of success in the classroom.”

Federal and California state programs that have been critical to the acceleration of this project are the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean School Bus program, California Air Resource Board (CARB), Heavy Vehicle Incentive Program (HVIP) vouchers, Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) and Clean Mobility Operations (CMO) programs.

Acceleration of the EV transition was the result of Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Zum’s utility partner, through its ability to provide 2.7 megawatts of load to Zum’s Oakland EV-ready facility in record time.

Zum has set a goal of electrifying 10,000 bidirectional school buses, which will create the potential to supply 300 gigawatt-hours of energy to power grids annually. In addition, the firm is electrifying school buses in its fleet in districts nationwide, with San Francisco Unified and Los Angeles Unified — which are three and six times the size of the Oakland school bus fleet, respectively — to soon follow.

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