California School Bus Electrification Project Kicks Off With Sargent & Lundy’s Help

Firm helped family-owned business win $3 million state grant to electrify quarter of its fleet with vehicle-to-grid technology

March 4, 2024 – The California Energy Commission this week kicked off a project with family-owned Storer Coachways to electrify a quarter of the company’s school bus fleet. Sargent & Lundy provided technical expertise and electric vehicle infrastructure experience to help Storer win $3 million in state grant funding for 37 bidirectional charging stations to be installed at two locations serving the Modesto City Schools District in California’s Central Valley. Sargent & Lundy will go on to help design and implement the project.

Alex Coologeorgen | Sargent & Lundy“This is a great win for a project that will serve so many community needs,” said Alex Coologeorgen, senior principal energy consultant who led the feasibility study on behalf of Storer. “Not only does it help a small business transition to safe, clean electric buses to transport special-needs students, but this will also provide additional energy back to the grid during peak demand periods in the summer when the buses are not in service.”

Storer Coachways was founded in 1952 to provide transportation services for special education students throughout Stanislaus County. The company is planning to electrify two of their school bus yards with space for more than 250 buses to reduce its carbon footprint and serve as an example for other operators to follow.

Beyond conducting the feasibility study for the two bus yards, Sargent & Lundy’s team also helped Storer apply for the grants under the CEC’s Clean Transportation Program. Following this week’s kickoff, the company will work with Storer to provide technical advice and coordinate with equipment suppliers and contractors for the selection of the chargers and buses. Prior to groundbreaking, which is expected to occur this summer, Sargent & Lundy will also provide design engineering services to support the installation of 37 chargers at the two bus yards. The project is expected to be completed by mid-2025.

The $3 million grant to Storer is part of a $125 million appropriation for zero-emission school buses and accompanying charging infrastructure. The state expects to fund an additional $375 million in future appropriations. Under the second phase of the CEC program, project teams awarded under the first phase will be allowed to use the bidirectional charging infrastructure blueprints to replicate the initial projects at additional California school districts.

In addition to reducing CO2 emissions from internal combustion engines, a primary objective of the grant funding is to create additional energy resources using vehicle-to-grid technology. In an area particularly prone to wildfires, the use of electric school buses with bidirectional capabilities can help improve grid reliability and reduce the impact of public safety power shutoffs. When utilities cut power to certain areas to lessen the risk of wildfires, the school buses can be used during peak summer months as a backup battery electric storage system to reinforce the grid.

“This project demonstrates our leadership and experience in this space,” Coologeorgen said. “This is an excellent use of this type of vehicle-to-grid technology. When school buses aren’t needed in the summer, they can be used as backup electric storage when there’s more demand for electricity. It makes perfect sense.”

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