Illinois School Districts Purchase V2G-Capable School Buses

Two Illinois public school districts recently purchased electric school buses from Georgia-based bus manufacturer Blue Bird Corporation. These buses are both the first operational electric school buses in the state, as well as the first commercial application of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology in the country.

The Pekin Transportation Department held a press event last week celebrating the delivery of Blue Bird’s DC fast charge V2G-capable school buses, powered by the Cummins PowerDrive EV system, to the Pekin Public School District in Pekin, Ill., and the Hollis Consolidated School District #328 in Peoria, Ill.

“Not only are we improving the health of our students, drivers and communities by reducing emissions, but our V2G capabilities allow us to store clean electrical energy and to generate revenue by reselling unused electricity back to the grid during peak demand,” said City of Pekin fleet manager Daniel Jost. “We’re proud to lead our community, state and the country toward a future based on clean energy.”

It also marks the first bus for the Hollis Consolidated School District, a fact that District Superintendent Chad Jones made light of. “Our small district only has one bus,” he said. “But we are proud to be the first school district in Illinois, and probably the nation, to have an all-electric fleet.”

The V2G technology from Nuvve Holding Corp. enables the buses’ batteries to store electricity, including renewable energy from wind and solar sources, when the grid doesn’t need it. Districts can sell the stored energy back to the grid during peak times. They can also serve as an additional power source for the school and be intelligently charged during non-peak hours. Nuvve will also install a V2G DC charging station in each school district.

“Our system allows electric school buses to perform to their fullest potential by providing grid services when plugged in and charging,” said Nuvve chairman and CEO Gregory Pollasne. “This reduces load on the grid and will make emergency back-up power from buses a reality in the near future. With our partners at Blue Bird, we’re on a mission to make the electrification of school buses more affordable and efficient, and our V2G platform positions us to do just that.”

According to Peoria Public Radio, the buses were purchased for $882,000 from the $8.6 million E.D. Edwards power plant settlement fund. The plant’s owners have been paying money to a region affected by its pollutants as a result of the Clean Air Act lawsuit settlement. The plant is also required to close by the end of 2022.

The plant’s closure will cost the Hollis School District an estimated $65,000 in revenue. Jones said he looks forward to the bus’s capability as a potential source of income to help offset that—and joked that he’s not even thinking that far ahead yet.

“My only worry for this electric bus is kids missing the bus in the morning because this electric bus is so quiet, you can barely hear it coming,” he said.

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].