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Con Edison Test Driving E-school Buses Toward Improved Reliability And Cleaner Air

Photo: screenshot, Con Edison

Con Edison has begun using the batteries on five electric school buses to provide power to its customers, marking the first time in New York State that electricity has flowed from buses into a utility’s grid.  

By day, the e-buses from Lion Electric, a North American leader in heavy-duty zero emission transportation, carry students to an elementary school in White Plains. They displace runs by buses that burn diesel, meaning better air quality in the Westchester County community.  

Con Edison and its partners have begun sending power from the batteries into its grid, a milestone in a demonstration project Con Edison began in 2018. The five buses can each discharge 10 kilowatts. For the five buses, that’s 50 kilowatts or 50,000 watts.  

That is a small amount of power for a utility grid with the capacity to reliably serve millions of homes and businesses in Westchester County and New York City. But the goal of the project is to explore the technological and economic potential of using e-school buses on a wider scale to improve air quality and grid reliability.  

There are approximately 1,000 school buses operating in Westchester and 8,000 in New York City that could make a significant difference if converted to electric.  

“We think electric school buses may provide an opportunity to achieve two of our company’s goals, which are reducing carbon emissions and maintaining our industry-leading reliability,” said Brian Ross, Con Edison’s manager for the project. “We are innovating to help our state and region achieve a clean energy future in which electric vehicles will have a big role.”  

The White Plains school district put the buses on the road for the 2018-2019 school year and has found them to be reliable transportation. The company and its partners have since developed solutions to technical challenges, such as coordinating communication between the buses, the chargers and the batteries.  

The charging and discharging takes place at a depot in North White Plains. The buses plug into a charger when the demand for power is low. The chargers reverse the flow of power into the grid at times when the buses are not transporting children.  

The buses are manufactured by Lion Electric in North America with vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology, and operated for the school district by National Express.  

“Our operators are dedicated to enabling the success of school bus electrification and V2G for the White Plains School District, with safety and reliability remaining our top priorities,” said Charlie Bruce, senior vice president of Business Development for National Express.  

“Our V2G software platform is designed to deliver grid services such as those to Con Edison from electric school buses,” said Gregory Poilasne, chairman and CEO of Nuvve Corp. “The electric buses provide a cleaner environment for communities and help lower CO2 emissions while ensuring that driving energy needs are met every day.”  

The upfront cost of electric school buses is higher than diesel buses. But using electric school buses for vehicle-to-grid purposes could make them more attractive to school districts, the communities they serve, and the bus operators that provide the service.  

About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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