Montgomery County, Maryland, will open a new bus facility providing solar power energy to 70 electric buses in the county Oct. 31.
The facility is made of a “microgrid” – a solar panel canopy that will charge the buses fully every day, according to AlphaStruxure architect Maeve Lawniczak.
County leaders said the 2012 derecho led them to find a new path for independent power after many areas were without electricity for long periods after the storm.
“Well, I think you are going to start seeing more and more of these microgrid solutions across different transit agencies,” Lawniczak said.
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A public-private partnership paid for the facility – a private company builds the facility and sells the energy to the county at a low fixed rate.
“In fact, our entire county fleet is going electric,” Montgomery County Director of General Services David Dise said. “We don’t buy fossil fuel vehicles anymore.”
The county’s goal is to lower carbon emissions to zero by 2035 by replicating the facility in other areas and buying more electric buses that are just under $1 million apiece, while also generating and storing its own energy.
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The cost is double that of diesel, but over time, the fuel and maintenance costs will make up the difference.
“Well above 40% of the emissions in the county are from transportation, so we are working hard to drive that down,” Montgomery County Transportation Director Chris Conklin said.