Blue Bird wins Energy Department grant for electric school buses

Blue Bird wins Energy Department grant for electric school buses

Federal, California grants target low-cost, vehicle-to-grid system.

January 30, 2017

Washington, D.C. – In December of 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy announced that it would award $15 million to organizations in an effort to accelerate the adoption of advanced and alternative fuel vehicles. Bus maker Blue Bird Corp., in Fort Valley, Georgia, was presented the largest amount at $4.4 million to develop a zero-emissions, 100% vehicle-to-grid (V2G) electric school bus.

“As the leader in alternative-fuel bus solutions, the addition of an electric school bus rounds out our portfolio,” says Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird. “Thanks to this award from the Department of Energy, we will be able to pursue the development of this technology based on our many years of research.”

One of the stipulations of the award is that the bus will be a low-cost, electric bus. Additionally, Blue Bird is looking to implement technology, known as V2G, that will allow the bus to put electricity back into the grid – which may help bring much-needed funds to school districts.

“This initiative will provide resources to explore alternative fuels for school transportation while sending energy back to the grid,” said Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. “The development of a low-cost electric school bus is an investment that could save state resources in the long term.”

Blue Bird produced its first electric school buses in 1994, says Dennis Whitaker, vice president of Product Development for Blue Bird. “Since then, we have been closely monitoring this technology, and have found that recent battery management advances have made this project viable. We should see our first new Blue Bird electric school bus in 2019.”

As a zero-emissions vehicle, this electric bus will be able to take away thousands of pounds of particulate matter from the air, making a positive impact on the environment, and the children these buses transport.

Combined with matching funding from other public and private entities in California, the total project funding will be more than $9 million and result in an eight bus demonstration fleet deployed in California by 2019.

Source: Blue Bird Corp.