The Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) in the Bay Area of California is set to fully transition its school bus fleet to electric buses. With this move, it is expected to become the first big school district in the U.S. to switch to 100% electric buses with vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capabilities.

By Paige Bennett

The school district has partnered with Zūm, a school transportation services company, to acquire a fleet of 74 entirely electric buses. In addition, the school district will receive bidirectional chargers, which can not only charge the buses but send stored or excess energy from the vehicles back to the grid.

This means the fleet of electric buses and chargers will double as a virtual power plant (VPP). Zūm reported the OUSD fleet VPP is expected to send 2.1 gigawatt hours (GWh) per year back to the grid, which will save about 25,000 tons of emissions.

“Oakland becoming the first in the nation to have a 100% electric school bus fleet is a huge win for the Oakland community and the nation as a whole,” said Kim Raney, executive director of transportation at Oakland Unified School District, as reported by Smart Energy International. “The families of Oakland are disproportionately disadvantaged and affected by high rates of asthma and exposure to air pollution from diesel fuels. Providing our students with cleaner and quieter transportation on electric school buses will be a game changer ensuring they have an equitable and stronger chance of success in the classroom.”

OUSD and Zūm are collaborating with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) via its Clean School Bus program, California Air Resource Board via the Heavy Vehicle Incentive Program, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Clean Mobility Operations programs and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to electrify OUSD’s fleet.

According to the California Air Resources Board, OUSD’s fleet transports 1,300 students to and from school each day. Soon, students will be able to ride emissions-free, electric buses in an area vulnerable to poor air quality. A recent American Lung Association report found that Alameda County is one of the most polluted counties to live in the U.S.; Oakland is located in Alameda County.

Countrywide, student transportation has more than 500,000 school buses, with 90% of these buses using fossil fuels for power. This contributes 8.4 million tons of emissions per year, Zūm reported.

Zūm has set a target to help electrify 10,000 buses in the U.S. and plans to work toward electrifying the larger transportation fleets for San Francisco Unified School District and Los Angeles Unified School District, Electrek reported.

“We at Zūm strongly believe it is time to move beyond pilots and deploy sustainability solutions at scale. Converting the Oakland Unified school bus fleet to 100% electric with VPP capability is the right step in that direction,” Ritu Narayan, founder and CEO of Zūm, said in a statement. “This historic milestone is a win-win proposition: Electric school buses with V2G provide students with cleaner, fume-free transportation and allow us to send untapped energy from the bus batteries back to the grid, creating an enormous impact on grid resilience.”

Based in Los Angeles, Paige is a writer who is passionate about sustainability. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Ohio University and holds a certificate in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She also specialized in sustainable agriculture while pursuing her undergraduate degree.

The original article can be found here