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EVs hit the schoolyard with a $750 million deal to charge up buses

For the better part of the last year electric vehicle charging has had the hot hand in both public and private markets as money flowed in.

Image Credit: Flickr/JohnPickenPhoto

While much of the attention and dollars went to the development of charging networks for consumers (to help them confront their range anxieties about how far an EV car can travel), there are massive fleets of big yellow buses that also need electrification.

That’s why the newly publicly listed Nuvve and a big New York-based investment firm, Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners, are creating a joint venture called Levo Mobility that will develop charging infrastructure for schools and other large transit vehicles.

Electric school buses are a big part of the Biden administration’s push to electrify vehicles in the public sector as part of its big infrastructure package (in fact the administration has earmarked $25 billion for a big push for bus electrification).

The administration had also hoped to electrify the Federal fleet and provide funding for state and local governments to make their own electric moves.

At the federal level, things have proven more difficult (witness the problems that the US Postal Service has run into with its own move toward electrification).

Through private sector initiatives like the one between Nuvve and Stonepeak (through its portfolio company, Evolve Transition), which will invest up to $750 million in electric charging stations for vehicles.

Nuvve does more than just charge vehicles, though. The San Diego-based company has an energy management system that can provide the electricity stored in vehicle batteries back to utility grids when those vehicles are not in use.

The company basically creates a flexible fleet of storage options that can take power from the grid at times when production is high and push power back on to the grid when there’s less generating capacity.

In effect, the company tries to smooth the supply-demand imbalances that can happen when renewable energy is brought on to the electric grid. It’s a solution to the classic “The sun shines in the day, but what do people do for power when the sun goes down?” problem that renewable energy skeptics like to pose.

Nuvve’s been developing this technology since its launch in 2010 and well before it merged with a special purpose acquisition company to go public in March.

According to Nuvve’s estimates, cars are parked about 96% of the day. And school buses, which are used to ferry kids to and from their houses are actually used even less, according to the company.

While they may not be used much, the big yellow bus is a big yellow source of polluting greenhouse gases. Diesel-powered buses can spew out as much as 5.3 million tons of greenhouse gases every year, according to a study by the Environment America Research & Policy Center and the U.S. PIRG Education fund, cited by The Wall Street Journal.

The new joint venture, Levo, aims to leverage the government’s commitment to electrify buses to help roll out its technology and will provide a flexible pricing plan for school districts who may find the sticker price of an electric bus… shocking.

EV buses typically cost about double what a diesel bus would cost, and using a leasing model, school districts might find the Levo solution an easier one to plug in.

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