The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded Blue Bird with $4.4 million to develop an electric school bus with vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology. With a total of almost $9 million to work with through matching funds from other groups, Blue Bird will build a demonstration fleet of eight buses in California by 2019.

In order to help lower the cost of ownership, these electric buses will have the technology to supply energy back into the electric grid when not shuttling students to and from school, which could earn money for their school districts. There's also an opportunity for these buses to create jobs. "Supplying electric drive components for say, 500 buses a year, would have the potential to create up to 250 new jobs in California," says Michael Simon, President and CEO of TransPower, a battery and electric propulsion company working with Blue Bird on this project.

In related news, Lion Bus has unveiled its eLion electric school bus in Palo Alto. The eLion was developed in partnership with the government of Québec (where Lion Bus is based) and the California Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz). The involved parties note that clean air is important near schools as the developing lungs of children are particularly susceptible to the dangers of pollution (the EPA is making Halliburton pay to clean up air at California schools for just this reason).

Québec and GO-Biz helped fund the project through their linked carbon cap-and-trade programs. Lion Bus plans to manufacture the eLion in California as it ramps up production. Massachusetts schools will be among those to use the eLion school bus.

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