San Diego Gas & Electric, the Cajon Valley Union School District and local technology company Nuvve began a technology project Tuesday allowing eight electric school buses to put electricity back on the power grid when needed, such as on hot summer days.
The vehicle-to-grid project is being touted by SDG&E as the first to come online in the nation, following the U.S. Department of Energy's vehicle-to-everything initiative announcement in Los Angeles in April.
As part of the five-year pilot project, SDG&E installed six 60kW bi-directional DC fast chargers at Cajon Valley's bus yard in El Cajon.
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"This pilot project is a great example of our region being at the forefront of testing and adopting innovative technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen the electric grid," SDG&E Vice President of Energy Innovation Miguel Romero said. "Electric fleets represent a vast untapped energy storage resource and hold immense potential to benefit our customers and community not just environmentally, but also financially and economically."
In addition to Cajon Valley, SDG&E is also working with the San Diego Unified and Ramona Unified school districts on V2G projects.
With the bi-directional chargers now in operation, Cajon Valley can participate in the utility's Emergency Load Reduction Program, which pays business customers $2/kWh if they are able to export energy to the grid or reduce energy use during grid emergencies.
"We jumped at the opportunity to be part of this pilot project because of its potential to help us build a healthier community and better serve our students," said Scott Buxbaum, the district's assistant superintendent. "If we are able to reduce our energy and vehicle maintenance costs as a result of this project, it frees up more resources for our schools and students."
V2G technology works by allowing batteries onboard vehicles to charge up during the day when energy, particularly renewable energy such as solar, is abundant. The batteries then discharge clean electricity back to the grid during peak hours or other periods of high demand.
"School buses are an excellent use case for V2G," said Gregory Poilasne, Nuvve co-founder and CEO. "They hold larger batteries than standard vehicles and can spend peak solar hours parked and plugged into bi-directional chargers. Nuvve's technology enables the grid to draw energy from a bus when it is needed most, yet still ensuring the bus has enough stored power to operate when needed."