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An electric school bus helps power grid in a first for this New England utility

The utility company National Grid has leveraged an electric school bus to help meet peak demand for electricity for the first time, in Beverly, Massachusetts. The National Grid supplies electricity to Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island.

Vehicle-to-grid school bus

The Thomas Built Buses Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley electric school bus equipped with a Proterra bidirectional battery charging system also successfully delivered electricity back to the power grid for more than 50 hours this summer. This is one of the first instances in the US of an electric school bus sending power back to the grid.

In conjunction with Highland Electric Fleets and National Grid, the electric school bus discharged nearly 3 megawatt-hours of electricity total to the regional electric grid over the course of 30 events this summer

The Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley, which can carry up to 81 passengers, couples 226 kilowatt-hours of total energy capacity with a Proterra electric drivetrain to offer up to 138 miles of drive range. It has a top speed of 65 mph and 295 peak horsepower.

Highland provides the bus, chargers, and all electricity to Beverly Public Schools under a mileage-based subscription. It worked with National Grid to ensure that the site was prepared for energy discharge.

Highland also coordinated participation in National Grid’s ConnectedSolutions Daily Dispatch program, which helps “customers discharge their devices at the ideal times, and [compensates] customers for the benefit this provides to the electric grid.”

The average school bus transports students for around six hours a day, 200 days a year, and is otherwise parked or idled. This is particularly true during the summer months, when demand for electricity is often at its highest and clean energy stored in idled electric school buses can provide an energy resource to the grid.

Beverly mayor Mike Cahill said:

Beverly is proud to lead in electrifying our school bus fleet and to be at the forefront nationally, to successfully discharge battery stored electricity back to the grid. We look forward to taking full advantage of the economic, environmental, and operational benefits that V2G technology offers.

Electrek’s Take

This electric milestone is personally exciting. I live a half-block from a high school in St. Petersburg, Florida. And every day, a dozen diesel school buses sit idling, spewing out dirty emissions, for about a half-hour. I’ve asked the school to stop the idling, but to no avail. I avoid going for walks when they’re there.

Every single school needs to adopt this electric school bus vehicle-to-grid technology. I cannot think of a single negative. (If you can, constructively let us know in the comments below.)

It results in more power back, lower electricity prices, reduced emissions for the kids on the bus, the driver, the pedestrians around the buses… and residents who live near the schools.

Read more: Switching only 20% of US school buses to electric is a missed opportunity

Photo: Proterra


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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.