The city of Oakland, California, will be the site of a vehicle-to-building pilot analyzing how zero-emission transit buses can maintain critical loads during emergency conditions, project participants announced Tuesday.
Funded by the California Energy Commission, the “powerhouse green energy project team” involves the city, Oakland-based public transit agency AC Transit, the Center for Transportation and the Environment, The Mobility House, New Flyer, Schneider Electric, and the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, or WOEIP.
Battery electric buses and hydrogen fuel cell-electric buses will provide backup power to the West Oakland Branch of the Oakland Public Library, where residents can shelter “in the event of unhealthy heat or smoke conditions,” the groups said in a press release.
The project is expected to be in place by the middle of next year and pilot activities will continue until July 2025, said participants. It is funded through CEC’s Electric Program Investment Charge program, which awarded the project $3.2 million in funding with a combined $400,000 in matching funds contributed by WOEIP and AC Transit.
The battery-powered buses will contribute six hours of backup power to the resilience center, while hydrogen buses will provide 11 hours. “This project also marks the first time a U.S. transit agency will have the capability to use a hydrogen vehicle for V2B backup power,” the group said.
Transportation electrification is increasingly seen as a social justice and equity issue, and experts say the Oakland V2B project could demonstrate the range of potential benefits.
"Many low-income communities of color share streets and fence lines with the freight industry and suffer deadly pollution from petroleum combustion,” said WOEIP Co-Executive Director Brian Beveridge in a statement. “With our electrical grids straining under the demands of global warming and solar and wind not keeping pace with the urgent need, hydrogen may offer another tool in the toolbox of zero-emission freight transportation opportunities.”