Legislation would allow electric school buses to send power back to the grid when not in use
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper and Representative Jason Crow introduced the Bus Integration Dedicated to Improving Resilience, Eliminating Congestion, and Triggering Innovation Over Numerous Applications and Localities (BIDIRECTIONAL) Act. The legislation would create a program within the Department of Energy to equip electric school buses with bidirectional energy flow capability for school districts across the U.S..
Bidirectional energy flow, also known as vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology, refers to vehicles with the ability to use their batteries to power the electrical grid when not being driven. Electric school buses are ideal for V2G applications because they have large batteries, sit idle for long, predictable periods, and operate in fleets.
Bidirectionality opens up a number of new opportunities on the grid. It can serve as a means of powering community centers or homes during prolonged grid outages. It can also act like energy storage, allowing grid operators to smooth out variable sources of power generation like wind and solar, or fill in for natural gas, coal, and nuclear if facilities are unable to show up when called upon, as happened in both Winter Storms Uri and Elliott. The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Bennet, Heinrich, King, Klobuchar, and Smith, and by Representatives Crow and Kuster in the House.
“V2G buses help back up our grid, require less maintenance, and ensure cleaner air for our kids,” said Hickenlooper. “This is how we power the future!”
“Colorado was among the first in the nation to lead a successful pilot program that returns energy from electric school buses back to our power grid. Now is the time to bring our homegrown innovation to scale,” said Crow. “I look forward to advancing this legislation to save energy, reduce costs, and expand access to clean, renewable energy that will protect our environment for generations to come.”
“With this new technology, electric school buses can not only keep our air clean, but also put power back into the electric grid,” said Bennet. “Our bill will help schools around the country follow Durango’s lead to implement innovative vehicle-to-grid systems that accelerate clean energy, cut pollution, and fight climate change.”
“Electric school buses help ensure our kids are breathing clean air on their ride to school. They save taxpayer dollars on fuel and maintenance costs. And they add more resiliency to our power grid,” said Heinrich. “I’m proud to support the BIDIRECTIONAL Act to make it easier for New Mexico public school districts to replace aging diesel vehicles with state-of-the-art electric school buses and, at the same time, unlock the use of EV battery storage to balance overall energy use.”
“Vehicle-to-grid school buses are another commonsense tool that can help create a reliable grid, promote clean energy, and cut costs for local towns and school districts,” said King. “The BIDIRECTIONAL Act will expand opportunities for school districts across Maine to transition to electric buses. Combined with electric bus investments from the Inflation Reduction Act, this bill will be an important step towards unlocking America’s clean energy future. It’s a simple, win-win bill and I hope it can get bipartisan support across Congress.”
“Making the switch to electric vehicles and building a clean, resilient electric grid are critical to addressing the climate crisis,” said Smith. “Electric vehicles need the grid for charging, but they can also make it more reliable and clean by returning electricity to the grid when it is most needed. This exchange is a win-win as we look to make our electric grid cleaner and more resilient. This vehicle-to-grid bidirectional exchange is particularly useful when it comes to electric school buses, and could provide a valuable revenue stream for school districts.”
“Electric school buses can play an important role for our communities, not only in getting our kids to school safely but also by supporting a stronger, more resilient clean energy future,” said Kuster. “I’m proud to support this legislation which is a win-win for our students and our planet.”
In Colorado, Durango’s 9-R School District, in partnership with La Plata Electric Association, leads the way in successful vehicle-to-grid deployment with their grant-funded pilot program purchase of a bidirectional energy bus.
Hickenlooper visited Durango’s 9-R School District to see their bidirectional energy bus in 2022
The Hickenlooper-backed Bipartisan Infrastructure Law sent $5 billion to school districts to get their electric bus fleets off the ground.
The bill enjoys the support of Accelera by Cummins, Advanced Energy United, Blue Bird, bp Pulse Fleet (formerly Amply), Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy, Community Organization for Resource Efficiency (CORE), EDF, Electrification Coalition, Environment America, Highland Electric Fleets, Lion Electric, La Plata Electric Association, NRECA, Nuvve, PIRG, Proterra, RMI, Xcel Energy.
View quotes of support for the legislation from endorsing organizations HERE.