RICHMOND, Va. — Dominion Energy is proposing an electric school bus program that would reduce emissions, provide cost savings to school districts, and enhance vehicle-to-grid reliability.
In the coming weeks, the program will accept bids through an RFP process from school bus manufacturers and school districts can express their interest in participating in the program, receiving buses as soon as next year, according to a news release from the company.
The initial phase of the electric school bus program aims to have 50 buses fully operational within Dominion Energy’s Virginia service territory by the end of 2020 — all without any change in prices paid by customers, according to the company. Phase two of the project, with state approval, would expand the program to bring 1,000 electric school buses to the area by 2025. Once phase two is fully implemented, Dominion Energy reports that the bus's batteries could provide enough energy to power more than 10,000 homes. Phase three would set the goal of having 50% of all diesel school bus replacements be electric by 2025 and 100% by 2030.
“We’re committed to lowering our carbon emissions, but we can’t do it alone. Transportation is the number-one source of carbon emissions in the U.S., and by partnering with this industry, we can expedite the development of innovative, cleaner, more sustainable solutions,” said Thomas F. Farrell II, Dominion Energy’s chairman, president, and CEO. “We think that electric school buses will provide a wide range of benefits for the customers and communities we serve, including cleaner air, cost savings for school districts, and enhanced grid reliability.”
If fully implemented, by 2025, Dominion Energy said the program's effect would be the equivalent of removing more than 5,000 cars from the road per year. Additionally, the company said that it plans to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 and have 3,000 megawatts of solar and wind in operation or under development by 2022.
Under the program, Dominion Energy plans to offset the additional costs of an electric school bus, including charging infrastructure, above the standard cost for a diesel bus. Operational and maintenance costs would also be reduced by up to 60% per year for localities, according to the company.
“This innovative electric school bus program is one of many steps we are taking to make electric vehicles accessible to all Virginians, and we look forward to working with Dominion as they bring electric school buses to communities in all corners of our Commonwealth," said Gov. Ralph Northam.
The electric school buses will serve as a grid resource by creating additional energy storage technology to support the company’s integration of distributed renewables such as solar and wind, according to Dominion Energy. The “vehicle-to-grid” technology would leverage the bus batteries to store and inject energy onto the grid during periods of high demand when the buses are not needed for transport.
Dominion Energy held a tele-town hall meeting on Wednesday to provide school districts with more information about the program.