Zūm provides V2G tech for California school buses

  • May 21, 2024
  • Steve Rogerson

A school in Oakland, California, is switching to a 100% electrified school bus system using the latest vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology.

Student transportation platform Zūm is providing a fleet of 74 electric school buses and bidirectional chargers in Oakland, managed through its AI-enabled technology platform.

Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) will be the first major school district in the USA to do this. The all-EV fleet will not only transport students sustainably, but also play a critical dual role as a virtual power plant (VPP), giving 2.1GW hours of energy back to the power grid at scale annually.

“We at Zūm strongly believe it is time to move beyond pilots and deploy sustainability at scale,” said Ritu Narayan, CEO of Zūm. “Converting the Oakland Unified school bus fleet to 100% electric with VPP capability is the right step in that direction. This historic milestone is a win-win proposition: Electric school buses with V2G provide students with cleaner, fume-free transportation and allow us to send untapped energy from the bus batteries back to the grid, creating an enormous impact on grid resilience. Zūm is proud to have delivered on this ambitious project a year ahead of schedule.”

Student transportation is the largest mass transit system in the USA, moving 27 million students twice daily. Today, over 90% of the nation’s 500,000 school buses run on carbon-based fuels, releasing over 8.4 million tons of greenhouse gases annually exposing students and communities to harmful gases every day.

“Oakland becoming the first in the nation to have a 100% electric school bus fleet is a huge win for the Oakland community and the nation as a whole,” said Kim Raney, executive director of transportation at Oakland Unified School District (www.ousd.org). “The families of Oakland are disproportionately disadvantaged and affected by high rates of asthma and exposure to air pollution from diesel fuels. Providing our students with cleaner and quieter transportation on electric school buses will be a game changer ensuring they have an equitable and stronger chance of success in the classroom.”

The acceleration of the EV transition was the result of Pacific Gas & Electric’s, Zūm’s utility partner, ability to provide 2.7MW of load to Zūm’s Oakland EV-ready facility in record time.

“PG&E is proud to work closely with Zūm and Oakland Unified in deploying what is the largest electric school bus fleet and vehicle-based, grid-supporting resource in the country,” said Mike Delaney, vice president at PG&E (www.pge.com). “Oakland is PG&E’s headquarters, it is home to many of our customers and co-workers, and a city we’ve proudly served for more than a century. Achieving this advanced fleet electrification and vehicle-grid-integration milestone for the people and students of Oakland reflects our commitment to delivering excellent customer service outcomes for our hometowns using breakthrough thinking, collaboration and swift execution.”

Zūm has set a goal of electrifying 10,000 bidirectional school buses, which will create the potential to supply 300GW hours of energy to the power grids annually. In addition, Zūm is electrifying school buses in its fleet in districts across the country, with San Francisco Unified and Los Angeles Unified – which are three and six times the size of Zūm’s Oakland school bus fleet, respectively – to follow soon.

Zūm (www.ridezum.com) provides turnkey modern transportation to school districts in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, Utah and Virginia, and is expanding nationwide.