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San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is working with the Cajon Valley Union School District and technology company Nuvve on an initiative that enables eight electric school buses to put electricity back on the grid when needed.
This is the first vehicle-to-grid (V2G) project to become operational in Southern California. It is also the first V2G project to come online in the nation, following the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) vehicle-to-everything (V2X) initiative announcement in April. It was celebrated with an event on July 26 attended by project partners and San Diego County District Two Supervisor Joel Anderson.
As part of the five-year pilot project, SDG&E installed six 60kW bi-directional DC fast chargers at Cajon Valley’s bus yard in El Cajon, Calif.
“This pilot project is a great example of our region being at the forefront of testing and adopting innovative technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen the electric grid,” SDG&E Vice President of Energy Innovation Miguel Romero said. “Electric fleets represent a vast untapped energy storage resource and hold immense potential to benefit our customers and community not just environmentally, but also financially and economically.”
In addition to Cajon Valley, SDG&E is also working with San Diego Unified and Ramona Unified School Districts on similar V2G projects.
“Pilots like these are critical to advancing industry knowledge and commercialization of new technologies that help create jobs and build a clean energy future,” Office of Technology Transitions Commercialization Executive Rima Oueid said. “I am thrilled to see this project go live less than three months after the DOE launched our V2X initiative, validating the value of public-private partnership.”
Through this program, Cajon Valley can participate in SDG&E’s new Emergency Load Reduction Program (ELRP), which pays business customers $2/kWh if they are able to export energy to the grid or reduce energy use during grid emergencies.
“We jumped at the opportunity to be part of this pilot project because of its potential to help us build a healthier community and better serve our students,” Assistant Superintendent Scott Buxbaum said. “If we are able to reduce our energy and vehicle maintenance costs as a result of this project, it frees up more resources for our schools and students.”
V2G technology works by allowing batteries onboard vehicles to charge up during the day when energy, particularly renewable energy such as solar, is abundant. The batteries then discharge clean electricity back to the grid during peak hours or other periods of high demand.
“School buses are an excellent use case for V2G,” Nuvve Co-Founder, chair and CEO Gregory Poilasne said. “They hold larger batteries than standard vehicles and can spend peak solar hours parked and plugged into bi-directional chargers. Nuvve’s technology enables the grid to draw energy from a bus when it is needed most, yet still ensuring the bus has enough stored power to operate when needed.”