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Con Edison And Partners Go To School With Findings From E-School Bus Project

Company Announces Findings from 1st Project of its Kind in NYS

Con Edison said findings from an innovative demonstration project support the company’s belief that electric school buses could be a resource in helping to keep its service reliable.

The company announced its findings from the three-year project at the New York International Auto Show, where Con Edison is lead sponsor of the EV test track.

“Our study yielded rich information about the potential to deploy e-school buses on a large scale to discharge power into the grid at times when our customers need it most,” said Leonard Singh, Con Edison’s senior vice president, Customer Energy Solutions. “While we have challenges to overcome, the coming electrification of school buses in New York State could hold benefits for school districts, transportation providers and our customers.”

Under the project, five electric buses took elementary school students in White Plains to their classes each day. The batteries on the buses charged and discharged at a depot in North White Plains.

Con Edison and partners retrofitted three of the buses with power converters allowing them to perform vehicle-to-grid (V2G) bi-directional charging. These converters allowed Con Edison to reverse the flow of power into the grid when the buses were not transporting children.

The goal was to determine the technical and economic viability of using V2G-equipped school buses to support the grid at times when demand for power is high, which is usually on hot summer afternoons. 

The buses met the project goal of averaging 1.4 kilowatt hours per mile.

They also exceeded the goal of minimal electricity losses. About 85 percent of the power in the batteries reached the grid. Moving electricity through conductors always results in some losses.

The research showed that using the batteries for both transportation and grid support causes the batteries to degrade just like driving would. That means that future V2G may require extended warranties or earlier battery replacements.

Con Edison worked with bus manufacturer Lion Electric, White Plains school bus contractor National Express, project developer First Priority Group Electrified (FPGe) and energy technology company Nuvve Holding Corp.

Other findings included:

  • Drivers, riders and the school district were pleased with vehicle performance and bus availability was almost the same as diesel buses.
  • Using school buses to support the grid is beneficial to Con Edison customers. The power from the batteries reduces stress on electric-delivery equipment and can keep costs lower for customers.
  • Certain challenges remain. For instance, electric school buses are more expensive than their combustion engine equivalents. But mass production and other advances could change the cost equation in favor of e-buses.

"As one of the largest school bus operators in North America, National Express was elated and honored to host the V2G project,” said Carina Noble, senior vice president, Communications and External Affairs, for National Express. “While there were reliability difficulties with some components initially, the successful discharges proved that V2G technology in a fixed-route service is viable for grid support. Providing a zero-emission riding experience is part of our sustainability roadmap, and proving our technologies will get us to our destinations safely and on time.”

“Nuvve worked closely with the other project partners to prove the use case of V2G with school buses,” said Gregory Poilasne, chairman and chief executive of Nuvve. “Since we started the project, more policymakers, school districts, and utilities have begun to understand how V2G using DC fast-charging stations can benefit the electrification ecosystem by creating cleaner rides for our kids and neighborhoods.”

“Lion is proud to be part of this first successful school bus V2G deployment in close collaboration with our great partners,” said Marc-Andre Page, vice president of Commercial Operations at Lion Electric. “V2G is a powerful tool that could not only help balance grids in the future, but can also lower the already favorable total cost of ownership that electric school buses offer to school districts and operators, allowing them to invest those funds back into education and their organizations.”

“Our intent was to bring industry experts together to design and implement one of the first bi-directional V2G solutions in the U.S.” said Robert Lupacchino, FPGe’s vice president. “This project shows how EVs and the energy they store can potentially help keep the grid reliable at times of peak demand, while saving money and reducing carbon emissions. We are pleased to have collaborated with our partners in making this happen.”

Using school buses as grid resources fits well with the goals of New York State and New York City. The city passed a law requiring all school buses to be electric by 2035 and Gov. Kathy Hochul has made the same commitment for the state.

The state’s fiscal 2023 budget requires that all new school bus purchases be zero-emissions by 2027 and all school buses on the road be zero-emissions by 2035. The budget will provide $500 million to support school districts in purchases of zero-emission buses and charging infrastructure.

About 1,000 school buses bring students to school in Westchester and 8,000 do the same in New York City. Switching those buses to electric and using them where appropriate to support the grid would be a big win for the environment and grid reliability.

The school schedule matches up well with the needs of the electric grid. School buses are available for charging at night when the grid is not under stress and power is less expensive. And the buses are usually available for grid support during the summer months when demand for power is highest due to customers’ need for air conditioning.

The concept is also consistent with Con Edison’s Clean Energy Commitment, which calls for making it easier and more convenient for drivers to adopt EVs.

Con Edison is a subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc. [NYSE: ED], one of the nation’s largest investor-owned energy companies, with approximately $14 billion in annual revenues and $63 billion in assets. The utility delivers electricity, natural gas and steam to 3.5 million customers in New York City and Westchester County, N.Y. Through Consolidated Edison Inc.’s subsidiary, Con Edison Clean Energy Businesses, the company is the second-largest solar developer in the United States. For financial, operations and customer service information, visit conEd.com.

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