Largest fleet of electric school buses providing network demand response

The Montgomery School District in Maryland has the most prominent fleet of electric school buses in the US and is now unlocking the true potential behind these pure EV machines. Leading electric school bus provider Highland Electric Fleets is partnering with CPower to deploy the nation’s largest fleet of zero-emission buses to help stabilize electricity demand, ensure grid reliability and lower energy costs .

Last week, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) reached an important milestone by becoming the single largest fleet of electric buses in the US.

Last school year (2021-2022), MCPS took its first delivery of 25 EV school buses while installing the supporting infrastructure at one of its transportation depots. This school year (2022-2023), the school district installed 61 more, with electrical infrastructure installed in three additional transportation depots.

According to the school district, on a typical school day, MCPS diesel buses use about 17,000 gallons of diesel, which releases polluting diesel emissions that are harmful to bus drivers and the communities they serve.

For this reason, MCPS is partnering with Highland to replace its 325 school buses with zero-emission electric buses. The fleet upgrade is part of the school district’s goal to reduce GHG emissions by 80% by 2027 and 100% by 2035.

The school district notes that the partnership will:

Provide cleaner, healthier transportation for students and local communities and support electric grid reliability with vehicle-to-grid (V2G) services and the first-in-place use of electric school buses to provide synchronized power backups.

To support its mission, Highland is partnering with CPower Energy to use the school district’s fleet of electric buses to unlock demand response solutions designed to reduce emissions by limiting power loads during peak grid demand.

MCPS Electric School Bus Fleet (Source: Highland Electric)

Electric school buses provide stable demand on the grid

Highland and CPPower will work together to enable “demand response solutions” using MCPS electric school buses to provide grid stability during peak demand periods.

Since EV school buses operate on a schedule, they are ideal candidates for use as a backup power source when electricity demand is highest. CPower CEO John Horton explains:

Our partnerships with electric vehicle fleet owners, charging operators and local school districts across the country show that participation in grid utility programs can significantly lower electrification costs, supporting local community resilience and grid greening.

CPower says it will manage the flow of electricity in electric school buses, reducing demand on the grid when needed. The collaboration will help increase reliability for the largest US grid operator, PJM.

Although PJM recently added EV charging assets to participate in its capacity and ancillary services, it has not yet included bidirectional charging services (for several reasons). CPower States that allow bidirectional charging under its market rules will:

Optimize environmental benefits by allowing EVSB batteries to export additional clean energy capacity to the grid.

The company hopes that with new distributed energy policies, such as the FERC 2022 Order, they will be able to use this technology to “unleash even greater value from these assets in the future.”

Getting Electrek

The Montgomery County Public School District is setting an example of what electric school buses can accomplish. Not only will they prevent diesel pollution from harming our children and communities, but they can also provide grid stability during peak demand hours.

Adding two-way charging makes sense, as electric school buses sit idle for long periods during the day.

Sadly, most school buses in the US are still diesel, which is completely unacceptable. With the benefits continuing to accrue and new incentives and policies to drive the adoption of electric school buses, there are no more excuses.

School districts are saving money, protecting the children and communities they serve, and providing practical solutions to increase grid reliability when demand is highest.

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