School bus contractor National Express, LLC is partnering with the White Plains School District, the local power utility and New York state’s energy agency, on a demonstration project that seeks to measure the benefits of using all-electric school buses to increase grid reliability.
Adam Ruder, program manager for clean transportation at the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), said the demonstration project underscores the priority the state is placing on public-private partnerships to increase electric vehicle deployments and reduce emissions. Earlier this year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for 50 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030.
Consolidated Edison, Inc., the utility company serving customers in Westchester county and New York city, said it plans to work with other school districts to electrify their fleets and to increase benefits for its grid, if this project is successful.
The New York State Public Service Commission approved the program and greenlit the use of the five eLion school buses from The Lion Electric Company of Quebec for routes starting in September. National Express agreed to pay the energy costs during the school year, with Con Edison paying the contractor during the summer months for the right to use the buses as grid assets while parked. Con Edison added that it will receive 75 kilowatts of power from the batteries in the five school buses.
“We think school buses have unique potential to help us keep our service reliable and contribute to a clean environment,” said John Shipman, department manager of demonstration projects for Con Edison. “These buses will provide clean transportation for students during the school year and be available to us for grid support during the summer. There’s a nice fit between the school schedule and our customers’ need for power.”
Con Edison and NYSERDA are sharing the cost of the five school buses through the New York Truck-Voucher Incentive Program, which covers up to 80 percent of the incremental cost over a conventional diesel school bus at the point of sale. The NYT-HVIP website states that a 2018 model-year eLion costs about $325,000.
Meanwhile, Con Edison and National Express are paying for the vehicle chargers.
FirstPriority GreenFleet, Lion Electric’s dealer in New York, New Jersey and California, delivered the school buses and assisted with the grants and the deployment. Lion has already deployed over 150 all-electric school buses in the last two years across North America, with more than two million miles driven.
“This pilot is a fantastic initiative for the future of New York’s clean transportation industry,” said Peter Rego, chief commercial officer USA for Lion Electric. “Lion has provided technical and maintenance training to the owners. We believe that offering best-in-class after-market product assistance is key to this pilot’s success.”
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