In an innovative move, Richmond, Virginia-based Dominion Energy announced plans for the nation's largest electric school bus deployment in order to provide cost savings to school districts and to enhance grid reliability.
Through the initiative, bus manufacturers will be able to submit bids, and school districts within Dominion Energy's Virginia service territory can express their interest in participating in this program.
The initial phase of the program is designed to have 50 buses fully operational within Dominion Energy's Virginia service territory by the end of 2020, without any changes in prices paid by customers. The second phase of the program, which would require state approval, would expand the program by bringing 1,000 electric school buses into operation by 2025.
What's in it for Dominion Energy? "Once phase two is fully implemented, the buses' batteries could provide enough energy to power more than 10,000 homes," said the utility in a press statement. "Phase three would set a goal to have 50 percent of all diesel bus replacements be electric by 2025 and 100 percent by 2030."
In other words, while school buses tend to run for a couple of hours in the morning and a couple of hours in the afternoon, most of them tend to sit idly in parking lots during the day. Dominion Energy plans to tap into these batteries in order to store energy from the company's integration of distributed renewables, primarily solar and wind. This energy could then be fed back into the electric grid during emergencies, or when energy demands are high. The concept is called "vehicle-to-grid power."
In a press conference, Tom Farrell, Dominion's CEO, called the program "the biggest and most ambitious [electric school bus program] in the world."
"Once again, Virginia is leading the way in promoting electric vehicle technology and improving the environment," said Governor Ralph Northam. "This innovative electric school bus program is one of many steps we are taking to make electric vehicles accessible to all Virginians, and we look forward to working with Dominion as they bring electric school buses to communities in all corners of our Commonwealth."