Con Ed tries pumping up with grid with electric school buses

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Con Edison has kicked off its effort to juice up its power
grid with electric school buses.

The tri-state utility giant is using the batteries on five
electric school buses that ferry students to an elementary school in White
Plains to pump 10 kilowatts into the system.

While that’s a drop in the ocean for a grid that powers millions of homes and businesses in Westchester and New York City, the goal is to test the system to see how it racks up in improving air quality and grid reliability.

BRIAN ROSS

“We think electric school buses may provide an opportunity
to achieve two of our company’s goals, which are reducing carbon emissions and
maintaining our industry-leading reliability,” said Brian Ross, Con Edison’s
manager for the project. “We are innovating to help our state and region
achieve a clean energy future in which electric vehicles will have a big role.”

Beginning in 2018, the five e-buses made by Lion Electric, a
North American leader in heavy-duty zero emission transportation, replaced the usual
diesel-spouting buses on the school routes. After ironing out kinks in communication
between the buses, the chargers and the batteries, ConEd started relaying the
power today.

The charging and discharging takes place at a depot in North
White Plains. There, Nuvve Corp, a San Diego-based, green energy technology
company that specializes in vehicle-to-grid transfers, plugs the buses into a charger
when the demand for power is low. The chargers reverse the flow of power into
the grid at times when the buses are not transporting children.

There are approximately 1,000 school buses operating in
Westchester and 8,000 in New York City that could make a significant difference
if converted to electric.

 “Our operators are
dedicated to enabling the success of school bus electrification and V2G for the
White Plains School District, with safety and reliability remaining our top
priorities,” said Charlie Bruce, senior vice president of Business Development
for National Express, which operates the buses for the school district.

Gregory Poilasne, chairman and CEO of Nuvve Corp, added, “The
electric buses provide a cleaner environment for communities and help lower CO2
emissions while ensuring that driving energy needs are met every day.”

Con Edison contracted with First Priority Group to help
develop and manage the project.

“Our goal was to bring industry experts together in a collaborative fashion to design and install one of the first true bi-directional V2G solutions in the U.S.” said Alex Cherepakhov, FPG’s chairman and CEO. “Vehicle-to-Grid integration is the next step in the evolution of EV fleet power technology and we are pleased to have collaborated with our partners in making this happen.”

The e-buses are made by Lion Electric

National Express pays the energy costs during the school
year. Con Edison, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority
and National Express contributed to paying for the buses. Con Edison and
National Express paid for the chargers.

The upfront cost of electric school buses is higher than
diesel buses. But using electric school buses for vehicle-to-grid purposes
could make them more attractive to school districts, the communities they
serve, and the bus operators that provide the service.

School schedules match up well with the power needs of Con
Edison’s 3.5 million customers. School buses are generally idle during the
summer, which is when utility customers’ need for power rises due to air
conditioning. Discharging power from the buses into the grid at these times of
high demand would take stress off Con Edison electric-distribution equipment.

Among the questions the project will answer is whether the
frequent charging and discharging will speed the degradation of the batteries.

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