The MCPS electric school bus deployment represents the largest procurement of these vehicles of...

The MCPS electric school bus deployment represents the largest procurement of these vehicles of any school district in North America to date, according to a news release.

Photo: Montgomery County (Md.) Public Schools

Voltus, Inc., a distributed energy resource (DER) software platform, together with Highland Electric Fleets, a provider of fleet electrification-as-a-service in North America, announced a partnership to deliver grid reliability to the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland (PJM) wholesale electricity market using electric school buses from Maryland’s Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). The MCPS school bus deployment represents the largest procurement of electric school buses of any school district in North America to date.

Highland offers full-service electrification solutions for a fixed annual fee. Highland provides the school buses, procures and installs charging infrastructure, manages charging to minimize costs and maximize environmental benefits, facilitates driver and mechanic training, pays for electricity and maintenance and repair costs, and includes performance-based guarantees so customers only pay if their buses perform as required. Established in 2019, Highland has grown quickly and provides its public-private partnership model to both school districts and third-party fleet operators across North America.

“School districts like MCPS are leading the way in fleet electrification, delivering not only healthier transportation for students but also providing support for local and regional electric grid reliability. Partnering with Voltus allows us to offer another value stream to school districts, further lowering the cost of upgrading to electric and also supporting increased renewable energy penetration by making the bus batteries available to utilities and wholesale electricity markets when they’re not being used to transport students,” said Ben Schutzman, vice president of fleet operations at Highland. “Together with Voltus, we are strengthening the economic and environmental use case for school districts to go electric.”

“By connecting Highland’s customers to electricity markets that value them, Voltus is unlocking the power of electric vehicle fleets,” said Dana Guernsey, Voltus’s chief product officer. “Transitioning the entire U.S. school bus fleet from diesel to electric will represent about 29 GW of new electric demand across 480,000 buses. We’re thrilled to demonstrate the value that electric school buses can provide to support grid reliability. School buses are a perfect use case for electrification, and are already cost-competitive on a total-cost-of-ownership basis with diesel buses. We aim to help Highland accelerate the transition to 100% electric school buses by layering on ancillary services and other value streams, which make adopting electric school buses the profitable choice.”

The Voltus software platform connects nearly 2,600 DER megawatts to electricity markets, maximizing the availability of these resources to grid operators. Comprised of all DER asset types, from the smallest DERs (e.g., smart thermostats and other residential resources) to the largest DERs (e.g., manufacturing facilities, data centers, big box retail), Voltus is the only DER software platform participating in all nine U.S. and Canadian wholesale power markets.

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