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Marthas Vineyard utilizes microgrid & solar to power the electrification of its bus fleet

City of Martha's Vineyard

Marthas Vineyard, MA

With increasing demand for a reliable, cleaner and quieter bus fleet, Martha’s Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) developed new infrastructure and a single-customer microgrid to transition part of their fleet to electric vehicles. This has helped the Island best serve its 1.3 million residents, while reducing GHG.

Topics Covered

Fleet Management
Energy Efficiency


Initial: Zero Upfront Cost


Federal grants

State and local grants

Project Status

Operational since 2018

Gov Champion

Transit Authority

Problem Addressed

Martha's VTA wanted to prioritize cleaner and greener transportation when serving its yearly 1.3 million users.

Nearly 1.3 million residents and tourists utilize Martha’s Vineyard's transit systems each year. Martha's Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) wanted to create a more environmentally responsible future, with cleaner and greener transportation at the forefront. Building a GHG-reducing fleet was crucial to preserving the natural beauty and air quality of the Vineyard.

However glamorous it may seem, vehicle electrification still comes with its challenges, one of which is power supply. The fleet must operate 24/7, and there is no guarantee that an electric fleet would provide reliable service in the face of an extended power outage. Additionally - it isn't cheap, with the price of electric vehicles sitting much higher than that of a diesel vehicle. This makes it crucial for buses to be plugged in at optimal times, when there is low demand on the grid.

Establishing the proper infrastructure was critical to ensuring that their fleet would meet all of the necessary qualifications.

Solutions Used

The Vineyard developed a single-customer microgrid that powered their clean, resilient fleet.

With this vision in mind, Martha’s Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) partnered with VEIC, a vendor-neutral, non-profit organization, to create the nation’s first integrated, clean, resilient, and flexible public transportation system.

VEIC provided planning and technical assistance to the VTA, helping the agency secure new sources of state and federal grants to support their fleet electrification. As a result, they received a $1.2 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration's Low or No Emissions Program and a $545,000 state grant. In July 2018, they used the funds to purchase six electric buses to begin fulfilling their commitment to purchase an all-electric fleet.

To ensure reliable service, the Vineyard developed a single-customer microgrid, a small self-contained distribution, storage, and generation network that can be both connected to the grid or operate fully self-sufficiently. Having the option for local energy generation was crucial in the case of a power outage. Using solar panels and energy storage infrastructure, the VTA can charge vehicles overnight and during operating hours at on-route chargers without incurring high electric demand charges. This helps keep the fleet running cost-effectively.

The canopy of solar panels began operation in May of 2021, and the fleet has grown from six to 14 electric buses. This has helped the community save money and reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions - all without reducing transportation reliability.



The VTA will save $4M through reduced bus operation costs, solar, and battery storage over the next 10 years with its current electric fleet


With electrification, the VTA fleet will drive 300,000 fewer miles using fossil fuels, reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions


14 of the 38 buses in the fleet are now electric, with the vineyard making measurable progress on its 100% electric goal


Once the transit goes 100% electric, it will reduce CO2 emissions over a ten-year period by 36,000 tons

Something Unique

With its promise of bus fleet electrification, Martha's Vineyard is the first transit agency in Massachusetts to commit to purchasing an all-electric fleet.

Who Should Consider

Communities looking for innovative ways to electrify their fleets while keeping them reliable and cost-effective.

Last Updated

Apr 1st, 2022

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