Step-by-Step Guide | October 17, 2022
Step 3.2: Select and Procure Chargers


Chargers can be procured simultaneously with buses, separately, or through a turnkey asset management solution. 

A variety of factors will influence charger selection, from the type of bus you purchase, to your routes and associated charging needs, to your facility, local grid capacity and charging location needs. The type of charger selected will have a big impact on the electrical infrastructure and upgrades needed. Some districts may opt to purchase one charger per bus to simplify operations, while others might consider chargers with multiple ports or phased charging schedules to minimize installation costs or address space constraints.

Districts also have the option to purchase and maintain chargers and charge management software in-house or outsource to a “charging as a service” firm to provide subscription-based, turnkey charging solutions with minimal upfront costs. 

Managed charging allows for a relatively simple solution to save money by shifting charging to times when energy costs are the lowest and/or spreading electricity over longer periods when the vehicles are not being used to reduce peak demand. 

Some chargers have bidirectional capability to enable electric vehicles to send electricity back to a building or the electric grid. Known as vehicle-to-building (V2B) or vehicle-to-grid (V2G), these chargers are typically more expensive but, in combination with necessary site infrastructure, can provide resiliency benefits in the event of power disruptions and reduce stress on the grid during times of peak demand. 

Some utilities have pilot programs that allow school districts to monetize the value of electricity sent back to the grid, but these programs are still in nascent stages. Bidirectional charging will require safeguards by the electric utility to assure energy is not sent back to the grid if there are dangerous situations liked downed power lines or faults that would put the public or electric utility workers at risk.

Things to do:

  • Review available chargers and their compatibility with your chosen buses and route planning
  • Review charge management software solutions that give you the ability to remote control charging and notify you if there are issues
  • Check if your electric utility offers infrastructure incentives or programs that would influence your charging decisions
  • Consider available business models, such as “charging as a service”
  • Make decision on chargers and associated procurement processes
  • Place order

Questions to consider:

  • How much power will you need to charge your buses, and what is your anticipated charging window when the buses will be available to charge?
  • How many chargers do you need, and of what type?
  • What are the facility and electrical infrastructure upgrade implications of different charging scenarios and how will they affect your project timeline?
  • Are you interested in contracting operations and maintenance of the charger, charge management software and associated equipment through a service-level agreement (SLA) with a charger network provider?
  • Will you procure the chargers along with your electric school buses or separately?
  • What values and criteria are you looking for in a vendor? Are there environmental or equity criteria that you should include in your vendor selection process?
  • Are you interested in V2B or V2G capability? If so, are there electric utility programs to support these efforts?
  • What values or revenue streams need to be assigned within a contract and to whom, for example, low carbon fuel standards credits or V2G revenues?

Potential stakeholders:

  • District transportation director
  • District energy manager
  • District business staff
  • District procurement staff
  • District superintendent
  • Electric utility representative
  • School board or other entity that approves contracts and purchases
  • Manufacturers/dealers/as-a-service companies
  • School bus contractor (if applicable)