California Energy Commission Awards $3M Grant to Fund Vehicle-to-Grid Project

March 22, 2024
The grant will fund an innovative V2G program that will connect a fleet of electric school buses to the grid.

The California Energy Commission (CEC), through its Clean Transportation Program, has awarded a $3 million grant to fund a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) project in the Los Angeles area that uses electric school buses to bolster the resilience of the grid.

V2G technology uses bidirectional charging stations to both pull power from the grid to charge a connected vehicle or send power from that vehicle’s battery to the grid. An artificial intelligence-driven software platform manages and optimizes EV charging and discharging in a way that provides value to the grid and to the vehicle owner.

The technology is increasingly being investigated as a way to mitigate the impact of extreme weather events and public safety power shutoffs, which have become increasingly common in California in recent years.

“With this new technology, electric school buses are not only delivering cleaner air to our children and cost savings to our school districts, but also providing extra power to the grid when we need it most,” said Patty Monahan, California Energy Commission’s lead commissioner for transportation.

Improving grid resilience, lowering operating costs

The California project will connect at least 20 of Lion Electric’s all-electric school buses with bidirectional charging capabilities to the grid via BorgWarner’s 125 kW bidirectional chargers and Fermata Energy’s AI-powered V2G software.

On school days, the electric buses will serve Conejo Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) and the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE).

When the buses are connected to the chargers, their batteries can be called upon to support grid reliability through participation in demand response programs. The district will be compensated for the energy it sends to the grid and that revenue will help to lower the total cost of ownership of the electric buses.

The project provides “a glimpse into the future of safe, clean, and environmentally sustainable student transportation,” said Dan Wilson, CEO of American Transportation, the school bus fleet operator that transports CVUSD students.

“The investment from the CEC for V2G-dedicated projects is a testament to the significance of this emerging technology and how collaborating with Fermata Energy and BorgWarner is helping address the demands of electrification,” added Nate Baguio, senior vice president of commercial development at Lion Electric.

Other California school districts are also investing in bidirectional charging and V2G technology. The Cajon Valley Union School District and San Diego Unified, both in San Diego County, have deployed bidirectional chargers and a V2G platform from Nuuve.

The CEC awarded Nuvve a $1.91 million grant in 2023 to develop a scalable model of that program for California school districts looking to implement their own zero-emission and bi-directional infrastructure.

About the Author

Kathy Hitchens | Special Projects Editor

I work as a writer and special projects editor for Microgrid Knowledge. I have over 30 years of writing experience, working with a variety of companies in the renewable energy, electric vehicle and utility sector, as well as those in the entertainment, education, and financial industries. I have a BFA in Media Arts from the University of Arizona and a MBA from the University of Denver.

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