A group of companies operating under a Clinton Global Initiative grant is working with three California school districts to retrofit six school buses with electric batteries and have them double as mobile generators during their downtime, Autoblog reports.
When the buses complete their routes, they could be used to make more money for their owners by charging their electric battery packs at off-peak hours and later selling the electricity back to power companies at higher prices during high-demand times, according to the news outlet. Additionally, during power outages or other emergencies, the buses could transform into mobile generators used to power hospitals or other critical places.
Retrofitting work began recently in Poway, California, on the first bus, Autoblog reports, and five more buses will be retrofitted in January. After testing, the six buses will be sent to districts in Torrance, Kings Canyon and Napa Valley. Two more buses may later be added in Massachusetts, according to the news outlet.
The project isn't designed to investigate whether the technology works, but instead to find out whether it can be profitable, according to Autoblog. Once project organizers determine how much money can be generated selling back electricity, they can compare that to the current costs of running a fleet. In addition to assessing profitability, organizers hope the project will show the health benefits of switching from school buses powered by diesel engines to those that run on electricity, the news outlet reports.
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Watch a video with more details on the project here.