Transforming Transit: Montgomery County’s EV Buses & Smart Energy Bus Depot
In an era where climate change has forced communities to rethink their traditional approaches to essential services, Montgomery County in Maryland has emerged as a frontrunner in sustainable and resilient transportation. By leveraging progressive energy purchasing regulations, the county has forged a groundbreaking public-private partnership with AlphaStruxure, a joint venture of Schneider Electric and the Carlyle Global Infrastructure Opportunity Fund, to establish the innovative Brookville Smart Energy Bus Depot.
This visionary project aims to transform Montgomery County’s transit system by embracing electric buses and integrating them with cutting-edge microgrid technology. With sustainability, reliability, and resilience at its core, this initiative showcases Montgomery County’s commitment to combating climate change while providing an efficient and dependable transportation network for its residents.
Electrifying Its Bus Fleet
Montgomery County’s ambitious plan involves transitioning its current fleet of 44 diesel buses to electric buses and expanding it to a minimum of 70 electric buses. The Brookville Bus Depot serves as the focal point for this transformation, accommodating the charging infrastructure and energy management systems required to support the electric fleet. By replacing traditional reliance on the electricity grid with a microgrid powered by solar panels, the county aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and minimize its ecological footprint. The integration of microgrid controls and solar canopies with electric vehicle charging infrastructure makes the Brookville Bus Depot the first of its kind, setting a new standard for sustainable transportation solutions.
The Innovative Microgrid
At the heart of the Brookville Smart Energy Bus Depot lies a state-of-the-art microgrid, designed to ensure a reliable and resilient energy supply for bus charging and site operations. With an impressive capacity of 5.6 MW, the microgrid incorporates distributed energy generation, energy storage, and over 2 MW of charging capability. A microgrid controller orchestrates the seamless coordination of these components.
Notably, the Brookville microgrid draws energy from solar panels at the bus depot, setting it apart from traditional transit agencies that rely solely on the traditional electric grid. The enormity of operations required to provide reliable bus service to a major metro area can provide tremendous strain on an electric grid, leading to concerns about electricity costs and fleet availability. It can also affect a transit operation’s sustainability plans and targets by constraining the number of electric buses that can be integrated into its fleet.
Energy-as-a-Service Based Approach to Sustainable Infrastructure
To implement this ambitious project, Montgomery County adopted an energy-as-a-service (EaaS) approach. In this model, a third-party, in this case, AlphaStruxure, deploys and operates advanced energy infrastructure equipment that supports the charging of the electric bus fleet. By leveraging environmental credits, tax incentives, and other incentives, the county minimizes its capital expenditure.
This innovative approach allows for the deployment of the necessary infrastructure without upfront costs, shifting the investment over time as an operating cost for the transit agency. Montgomery County’s commitment to climate change mitigation and forward-thinking solutions has paved the way for this groundbreaking collaboration.
Resilience and Reliability
The significance of the Brookville Smart Energy Bus Depot goes beyond sustainability. By implementing a microgrid-based energy solution, the county ensures the resilience and reliability of its transit system, even in the face of major climate events and grid outages. For residents who rely on the Ride On system for their daily transportation needs, this development provides assurance that electric buses will continue to operate and serve their regular routes.
The microgrid’s integration with battery energy storage systems and renewable natural gas generation ensures stable and uninterrupted power supply, making Montgomery County a model for other communities striving to build resilient transportation infrastructure. As part of the County’s commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2035, AlphaStruxure plans to transition the microgrid’s onsite gas generation to carbon-neutral sources in the near future, making Brookville fully powered by renewable energy.
Montgomery County’s Brookville Smart Energy Bus Depot represents a transformative step towards a greener, more resilient energy future. By embracing electric buses and combining them with cutting-edge microgrid technology, the county demonstrates its commitment to combatting climate change, reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), and ensuring a reliable transportation network for its residents.
The public-private partnership with AlphaStruxure sets an example for municipalities around the world showcasing the feasibility and benefits of sustainable and resilient energy and solutions. As Montgomery County continues its journey towards a carbon-free future, the Brookville Smart Energy Bus Depot stands as a landmark example of how municipalities can leverage innovation, technology and collaboration to meet their sustainability targets, reliably and effectively serve the public, all while providing an even broader public benefit.
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