Prince Edward Island has enlisted the help of Lion Electric‘s electric school buses to provide power in the event of emergencies, to keep community disaster relief locations running when the power goes out.

Lion Electric is a Canadian-based electric medium- and heavy-duty vehicle manufacturer that primarily produces the classic North American yellow school bus. Based in Quebec not far outside of Montreal, it has become a leader in the space.

Its LionC electric school bus has a battery capacity of 126-210kWh depending on options – quite a bit of juice. And most relevant to the news piece in question, it’s also capable of vehicle-to-grid operation.

Vehicle-to-grid, or V2G, refers to the ability of an electric vehicle to deliver energy back to the grid, rather than just to pull energy out of it. Not many cars have this capability because it has limited consumer applications (so far), but it’s more useful for fleets.

In this instance, Lion’s V2G technology will be used in Prince Edward Island, the smallest province in Canada, to provide power in temporary community shelters in emergency situations.

Last year, the island was hit by the tail end of Hurricane Fiona, which delivered up to 150 km/h (93 mph) winds in the province. The storm knocked out power for 95% of the island.

When the power was out, the province opened “warming centres” across the island to serve food and provide shelter (and, in a sign of the times, a place to charge their phones). One of these shelters was the North Rustico Lions Club in the tiny town of North Rustico, population 648.

To provide power during the storm, the Club ran a diesel generator day and night. But this will no longer be required in the future, as Lion’s V2G technology will be leveraged to provide cleaner, quieter, less-dangerous power for this warming center. And less dangerous is an important part, since Prince Edward Island’s one fatality during last year’s storm was a man who died of carbon monoxide poisoning while operating a generator.

The LionC’s battery means that two electric buses should be able to provide about three days’ worth of power for the Lions Club, according to Lion Electric. (And no, Lion Electric and Lions Club share no relation – the names are coincidental).

This is a pilot program, and costs will initially be paid by a combination of Lion Electric and the province itself. The province has ordered over 200 electric school buses from Lion, 82 of which will be in service by the end of next month.

But it doesn’t stop at emergency response – the province also wants to use these buses to help clean up the grid, by charging when demand is low or when there is an abundance of renewable electricity generation, and discharging into the grid to help offset dirty peaker plants when demand is high. The province proudly states that these two points make electrification of school buses a key part of their net zero strategy that leads the rest of the nation.