CEO, Edgewise Energy
At Cutting-Edge Edgewise, The Wheels in their Minds Go Round and Round
School’s open, drive carefully.
And drive emissions-free, if you can. And when you’re not driving, boost the regional energy grid with a green-gen two-step that reverses the flow and drives straight toward sustainability.
That’s the plan at Edgewise Energy, a next-level middleman between energy utilities and end-using customers. As such, the Plainview-based 2015 startup develops and aggregates a variety of regional energy projects, all looking to maximize efficiency and optimize value streams.
Among them: A “vehicle-to-grid” (V2G) school bus pilot program Edgewise Energy has submitted to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) on behalf of bus operator Suffolk Transportation Services.
The V2G pilot effort, created in conjunction with PSEG-LI, would see electric-powered school buses not only replace traditional gas-guzzlers during the school year, but feed low-cost electricity back into the regional grid during the summer, when temperatures rise and energy demand peaks.
The secret sauce of the ambitious power plan is a fleet of electric-motor Blue Bird Corp. school buses. It’s a small fleet – just three buses for the pilot program, projects Edgewise Energy co-founder and CEO Sammy Chu – but it offers a huge advantage, in addition to taking three traditional internal-combustion buses off regional roads.
Each bus is equipped with an “onboard inverter” that allows stored electricity to be fed back into the power grid – the perfect tech to leverage the current realities of energy generation, Chu notes.
“There are a lot of value components today when it comes to your electric bill,” the CEO says. “Location, the time of day you use the energy, the time of day you produce the energy … that’s what makes something like vehicle-to-grid so important.”
Electricity transmission/storage/inversion technology is complex, but the idea is simple: During the summer, when they’d otherwise be hibernating, electric school buses can charge up at night (when demand wanes and price scales slide lower) and then squeeze the juice back into the grid when daytime demand peaks, offsetting costs and building more sustainable momentum.
Pitched through NYSERDA’s REV Connect program – an online platform that networks tech companies and utilities with similar environmental ambitions – the pilot effort is an “elegant solution” for reducing carbon emissions during the school year and promoting sustainability in the summer, Chu says.
It’s also a natural fit for the CEO – both chairman of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Long Island Chapter and vice chairman of the Suffolk County Planning Commission – and his startup, a self-billed “small shop” (just six full-time employees, including Chu) looking to make a big impact.
The little-company-that-could has received more than a jolt from the Clean Energy Business Incubation Program (CEBIP), according to Chu, who calls CEBIP “a great resource on many levels.”
“They’ve connected us to industry resources that have helped us from both a business-advisory perspective and from a technical-resources perspective,” he says. “And it’s been great from a collegiality standpoint – being a part of that community with a real sense of belonging.
“The clean-energy space can be a little like being a Mets or a Jets fan – it’s not for the weary,” Chu adds. “It’s nice to know others are in the same position, where their passion is driving through uncertainty and market obstacles to create meaningful solutions.”
The V2G pilot program is included in PSEG-LI’s Utility 2.0 Long-Range Plan, which is slated to be officially adopted later this year. Chu is “optimistic” funding for Suffolk Transportation Services’ three electric buses will be approved and the mini-fleet will be deployed in time for Summer 2020 – hopefully, he notes, the vanguard of an entirely new student-transportation system on Long Island.
“We know it will take many years,” the CEO says. “But we believe this pilot program will give us an opportunity to eventually electrify all of Long Island’s school buses.”