The California Energy Commission has approved a $1.4-million grant to the consulting firm National Strategies (NSI) for an electric school bus demonstration program. Together with a previously awarded grant from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the total of $2.2 million will finance the development of six electric school buses that will be deployed in the Torrance, Kings Canyon and Napa Valley school districts.
“This is the largest demonstration of zero-emission school buses in the country and the first to utilize Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology to aid in reducing student transportation costs,” said Kevin Matthews, Managing Director of NSI. “The project will show that we can remove children from diesel emissions and improve air quality while simultaneously reducing the cost of student transportation and supporting the utility grid.”
The goal of the project is to demonstrate that the total cost of ownership of electric school buses is equal to or less than that of legacy diesel buses. The demonstration will document lower fuel and maintenance costs, and the potential to generate revenue by supplying energy stored in the buses’ batteries to the utility grid when not transporting students.
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Other areas to be studied include the vehicles’ performance characteristics, range of operation and emissions reductions, as well as Vehicle-to-Building (V2B) technology, by which the buses can provide power to buildings during a power outage or disaster situation.