Dominion Energy Looks to Electric School Buses for Grid Support
- Sep 6, 2019 7:32 pm GMT
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Dominion Energy Virginia said it plans to help electrify school bus fleets across the state.
The utility is opening a request for proposal (RFP) process for school bus manufacturers to supply vehicles, and school districts across the state can express interest in taking part in the program. Bus deliveries could begin as soon as 2020.
Plans call for the electric school buses to serve as a grid resource by creating additional energy storage to support Dominion's integration of distributed renewables such as solar and wind. The vehicle-to-grid technology uses the bus batteries to store and inject energy onto the grid during periods of high demand when the buses are not needed for transport.
Dominion Energy Chairman, President and CEO Thomas F. Farrell, II, said, "We think that electric school buses will provide a wide range of benefits for the customers and communities we serve, including cleaner air, cost savings for school districts and enhanced grid reliability."
As part of the state's 2018 Grid Security and Transformation Act, Dominion is working to secure around 3,000 megawatts of new solar and wind energy capacity by 2022. Energy storage made possible by technologies such as electric buses can help smooth the intermittent nature of that renewable energy resource.
The first phase of the electric school bus deployment is estimated to cost $13.5 million and aims to have 50 buses fully operational within Dominion Energy's Virginia service territory by the end of 2020. Phase two of the project, with state approval, would expand the program to bring 1,000 electric school buses online by 2025.
Later phases set the goal to have 50% of all diesel bus replacements be electric by 2025 and 100% by 2030.
Virginia is not alone in deploying electric school buses. In California, bus manufacturer Blue Bird said that it has orders for nearly 100 electric school buses. The buses have a range of up to 120 miles and can be recharged in around eight hours using a standard SAE J1772 Level 2 charger.
Under the Virginia program, Dominion Energy will offset the additional costs of an electric school bus, including charging infrastructure, above the standard cost for a diesel bus. The utility said that operational and maintenance costs are also lower with electric school buses, providing a potential reduction of as much as 60% per year for school districts.