Are EV School Buses the Key to Charging California’s Power Grid?

David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

Are EV School Buses the Key to Charging California’s Power Grid?

Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) is often pitched as a technology of the future–some just over-the-horizon idea that will let electric vehicle owners use their car to power their house or their campsite or the grid at large. This vision, where EV adoption is near universal and the grid is stabilized by thousands of massive portable batteries, is replete with tantalizing possibilities. But for San Diego-based V2G pioneer Nuvve, that version of the future is inverted. Instead of EV adoption driving V2G technology, the company sees it the other way around: The benefits of connecting a car to the grid should be a way to lower the cost of ownership and a lever to help more people access the technology.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of V2G, the premise is basically what the name suggests: Electricity flow between the grid and vehicles should be bidirectional. In other words, the grid should be able to not only power your car, but your car should also be able to power the grid, and drivers should get paid for their contribution. Because electric vehicles are basically gigantic batteries on wheels, they can be used as portable power sources. Having a fleet of such batteries on the road could allow grid operators to draw energy from vehicles when the grid is stressed or when we’d otherwise be forced to rely on fossil fuels.

For drivers willing to use their car’s battery to power the electrical grid, V2G gives them another source of income that can offset the high cost of buying an EV.

“Electric vehicles are still expensive and the infrastructure that goes with them is also expensive to install and to maintain,” says Nuvve CEO Gregory Poilasne. “Therefore, the ability to use those assets while they are parked and to provide those grid services can help with reducing the total cost of ownership of the vehicle, and therefore can help accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles.”

Poilasne started Nuvve in 2010, but the idea behind the company, he says, is much older and was born out of research from Willett Kempton—the progenitor of grid integrated technology. Poilasne’s company went public via SPAC in November of 2020, and has subsequently seen its stock price drop by 88%.

“The stock market is a bit rough on the shoulders right now,” Poilasne says with a wry laugh, but he sees massive tailwinds starting to pick up in the industry as well.

Specifically he points to the EPA’s announcement to grant $1 billion in funding for school districts to electrify their bus fleets. Buses are both ideal candidates for electrification and ideal test cases for V2G for many of the same reasons: Their batteries are massive, they have predictable use schedules, and they always return to the same depot for charging. Even with the grant money, however, the cost of electrification for most districts remains steep. But Poilasne thinks that schools could be guaranteed to recapture some of that investment via selling electricity back to the grid.

Last week, Nuvve unveiled a partnership with the Ramona Unified School District in California's San Diego County, in which the V2G company will provide DC fast charging stations to the district that link directly to the grid.The idea is to allow the school to use its new fleet of eight electric buses to sell electricity back to the grid under San Diego Gas & Electric Company's Emergency Load Reduction Program. According to Nuvve, the school could receive as much as “$2 per kWh, which equates to a potential savings of up to $7,200 per bus per year, for verified export and load reduction.” With the cost of a new electric bus running between $140,000 and $400,000+ depending on rebates and model, the money back from V2G could make electrification considerably more palatable for districts rather than individual schools.

Nonetheless, this isn’t Nuvve’s first such deal working with school buses. But it is the biggest to date. The partnership also represents an ideal testing ground for the technology with exactly the kind of partnerships the company will need in order to survive.

“The amount of money that's being spent in that space is gigantic,” says Poilasne. “The speed at which that transformation is going to happen is going to be gigantic. I think we're going to see some drastic changes in how this whole industry is being set up and how it's being run.”

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Two LA Startups Participate in Techstars' 2023 Health Care Accelerator

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

Two LA Startups Participate in Techstars' 2023 Health Care Accelerator
Courtesy of Techstars

Earlier this month, Techstars announced that their 2023 accelerator program will have two simultaneous cohorts–Techstars health care and L.A. As previously reported on dot.LA, Techstars has brought on board returning partners Cedars Sinai, United Healthcare, along with new partners that include UCI Health and Point32Health for its health care cohort.

“For our healthcare program, this is the first time we've had multiple partners as sponsors,” Managing Director Matt Kozlov said. “This allows us to support and mentor a wider diversity of companies than we've been able to help historically.”

The in-person program is taking place in Los Angeles and two out of the twelve companies accepted into the health care program are based in Southern California.

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The Creator-To-Podcaster Pipeline Is Ready to Explode

Nat Rubio-Licht
Nat Rubio-Licht is a freelance reporter with dot.LA. They previously worked at Protocol writing the Source Code newsletter and at the L.A. Business Journal covering tech and aerospace. They can be reached at
The Creator-To-Podcaster Pipeline Is Ready to Explode
Evan Xie

It’s no secret that men dominate the podcasting industry. Even as women continue to grow their foothold, men still make up many of the highest-earning podcasts, raking in massive paychecks from ad revenue and striking deals with streaming platforms worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

But a new demographic is changing that narrative: Gen-Z female influencers and content creators.

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NASA’s JPL Receives Billions to Begin Understanding Our Solar System

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

NASA’s JPL Receives Billions to Begin Understanding Our Solar System
Evan Xie

NASA’s footprint in California is growing as the agency prepares for Congress to approve its proposed 2024 budget.

The overall NASA budget swelled 6% from the prior year, JPL deputy director Larry James told dot.LA. He added he sees that as a continuation of the last two presidential administrations’ focus on modernizing and bolstering the nation’s space program.

The money goes largely to existing NASA centers in California, including the Pasadena-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory run with Caltech, Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley and Armstrong Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base.

California remains a hotspot for NASA space activity and investment. In 2021, the agency estimated its economic output impact on the region to be around $15.2 billion. That was far more than its closest competing states, including Texas ($9.3 billion) and Maryland (roughly $8 billion). That same year, NASA reported it employed over 66,000 people in California.

“In general, Congress has been very supportive” of the JPL and NASA’s missions, James said. “It’s generally bipartisan [and] supported by both sides of the aisle. In the last few years in general NASA has been able to have increased budgets.”

There are 41 current missions run by JPL and CalTech, and another 16 scheduled for the future. James added the new budget is “an incredible support for all the missions we want to do.”

The public-private partnership between NASA and local space companies continues to evolve, and the increased budget could be a boon for LA-based developers. Numerous contractors for NASA (including CalTech, which runs the JPL), Boeing, Lockheed Martin, SpaceX and Northrop Grumman all stand to gain new contracts once the budget is finalized, partly because NASA simply needs the private industry’s help to achieve all its goals.

James said that there was only one JPL mission that wasn’t funded – a mission to send an orbital satellite to survey the surface and interior of Venus, called VERITAS.

NASA Employment and Output ImpactEvan Xie

The Moon and Mars

Much of the money earmarked in the proposed 2024 budget is for crewed missions. Overall, NASA’s asking for $8 billion from Congress to fund lunar exploration missions. As part of this, the majority is earmarked for the upcoming Artemis mission, which aims to land a woman and person of color on the Moon’s south pole.

While there’s a number of high-profile missions the JPL is working on that are focused on Mars, including Mars Sample Return project (which received $949 million in this proposed budget) and Ingenuity helicopter and Perseverance rover, JPL also received significant funding to study the Earth’s climate and behavior.

JPL also got funding for several projects to map our universe. One is the SphereX Near Earth Objects surveyor mission, the goal of which is to use telescopes to “map the entire universe,” James said, adding that the mission was fully funded.

International Space Station

NASA’s also asking for more money to maintain the International Space Station (ISS), which houses a number of projects dedicated to better understanding the Earth’s climate and behavior.

The agency requested roughly $1.3 billion to maintain the ISS. It also is increasing its investment in space flight support, in-space transportation and commercial development of low-earth orbit (LEO). “The ISS is an incredible platform for us,” James said.

James added there are multiple missions outside or on board the ISS now taking data, including EMIT, which launched in July 2022. The EMIT mission studies arid dust sources on the planet using spectroscopy. It uses that data to remodel how mineral dust movement in North and South America might affect the Earth’s temperature changes.

Another ISS mission JPL launched is called ECOSTRESS. The mission sent a thermal radiometer onto the space station in June 2018 to monitor how plants lose water through their leaves, with the goal of figuring out how the terrestrial biosphere reacts to changes in water availability. James said the plan is to “tell you the kind of foliage health around the globe” from space.

One other ISS project is called Cold Atom Lab. It is “an incredible fundamental physics machine,” James said, that’s run by “three Nobel Prize winners as principal investigators on the Space Station.” Cold Atom Lab is a physics experiment geared toward figuring out how quantum phenomena behave in space by cooling atoms with lasers to just below absolute zero degrees.

In the long term, James was optimistic NASA’s imaging projects could lead to more dramatic discoveries. Surveying the makeup of planets’ atmospheres is a project “in the astrophysics domain we’re very excited about,” James said. He added that this imaging could lead to information about life on other planets, or, at the very least, an understanding of why they’re no longer habitable.