ALEXANDRIA, VA – According to Peggy Fox, spokesperson for Dominion Energy, “Five electric school buses will be on the roads in Alexandria by the end of 2020.” The new “vehicle to grid” energy workhorses will not only carry children to and from the classroom. They will be feeding the power grid and reducing emissions as Dominion Energy moves forward with the nation’s largest electric school bus deployment.
Batteries on Wheels
Alexandria is just one of the 16 Virginia localities leading the country in new “vehicle to grid” technology. These are not just any electric buses—they are really giant batteries on wheels.
The buses are equipped with bidirectional inverters, meaning they can charge the bus, or store energy and feed back into the electrical grid.
Last fall, Governor Ralph Northam (D) announced a $20 million initiative to help public school districts switch to all-electric school buses. The program would reimburse districts up to $265,000 for the purchase of an all-electric bus, including charging infrastructure. Dominion Energy is also offsetting the additional costs of an electric school bus above the standard cost for a diesel bus.
Long-Range Cost Savings for Schools
“After the initial purchase, districts can expect to save dividends on their operating costs through the life of the bus in the form of fuel savings and lower maintenance costs. In fact, although fueling and charging costs ebb and flow, recent reports are showing electricity can be around 60 percent lower than diesel costs.
On average, an electric school bus could save schools nearly $2,000 a year in fuel and $4,400 a year in maintenance costs,” according to Thomas Built Buses, the company chosen after a lengthy bid process to provide the buses.
Dominion Energy says, “An electric school bus produces zero emissions. Replacing a diesel bus with an electric bus is the equivalent of taking 5.2 cars off the road. If fully implemented, by 2025, the program would be the equivalent of removing more than 5,000 cars from the road per year. That means lower carbon dioxide emissions and cleaner, healthier air for everyone, especially children.”
“We are excited to move forward with our commitment to bringing the benefits of electric school buses to the customers and communities we serve,” said Dominion Energy Chairman, President and CEO Thomas F. Farrell, II. “This is an innovative, sustainable solution that will help the environment, protect children’s health, make the electric grid stronger, and free up money for our schools.”
Localities were selected based on the benefit the batteries would bring to the electric grid, says Dominion Energy. Nearby, Arlington and Fairfax have also been included in the rollout.
It’s an Electric Future
Phase two of the project, with state approval, would expand the program to bring at least 1,000 additional electric school buses online by 2025. Once phase two is fully implemented, the buses’ batteries could provide enough energy to power more than 10,000 homes. Phase three would set the goal to have 50 percent of all diesel bus replacements in Dominion Energy’s footprint be electric by 2025