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P3 microgrid infrastructure powers county's electric bus fleet, reduces lifetime emissions by 62%

Montgomery County

Montgomery County, MD

Aspiring to reach net-zero emissions by 2035, Montgomery County resolved to electrify its bus fleet but needed infrastructure built to power the vehicles in a sustainable, resilient way. Building a microgrid via a P3 partnership to power the fleet, the county is estimated to have reduced lifetime emissions by 62%.

Topics Covered

Fleet Management
Energy Efficiency
Renewables
Energy Disruptions

Funding

Public Private Partnership

State and local grants

Project Status

In Progress/Under Construction since 2022

Problem Addressed

In the face of growing impacts due to climate change, Montgomery County responded by doubling down on its goals of energy resilience and sustainability.

To improve its energy resilience in light of a history of extended power outages due to storms, the county built two microgrids to maintain essential service provision to the community in the event of a large-scale power outage. As proof of its commitment to sustainability, the county set a goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2035.

Having set its own net-zero emissions goal, the county needed projects that would take steps to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels. Inspired by the State of Maryland’s goal to have a 50% zero-emission bus fleet by 2030, Montgomery County resolved to electrify 44 buses from its fleet.

The only question that remained was how to build the infrastructure necessary to power the new vehicles in a sustainable, resilient manner.

Solutions Used

The city utilized a public-private partnership that used an energy-as-a-service financing model to build out its microgrid system.

The county had previously built two microgrids to maintain service provision during power outages. When thinking of ways to build and power charging infrastructure for the new electric fleet, one option stood out: a sustainable, resilient microgrid system.

Through a public-private partnership (P3) with AlphaStruxure that used an innovative energy-as-a-service financing model, Montgomery County plans to have the new microgrid operational in 2022. The P3 service model enables AlphaStruxure to design, own, and maintain the microgrid while allowing the county to nearly eliminate all upfront costs. The project will ensure a ready supply of sustainable, resilient, and cost-effective power for the County’s new electric bus fleet.

The project was named the Brookville Smart Energy Bus Depot (BSEBD). Generating 5.6 MW of power, the depot’s microgrid will ensure uninterrupted service of the 44 bus fleet even in the event of multi-day utility grid outages. Once operational, the microgrid will generate electricity through solar PV canopies constructed over the bus parking lots as well as through other carbon-neutral sources, and funnel the electricity into battery energy storage and electric vehicle charging equipment.

Through the BSEBD, Montgomery County will have a resilient, powerful source of 100% renewable electricity that can be directed in or out of the microgrid to nimbly support either the bus depot or the main power grid as needed. Furthermore, by charging from its own power supply, the county will avoid utility demand charges and won’t have to set bus charging schedules around the utility’s time-of-use rates. The project will be operated via a cloud-connected network operation to monitor and optimize energy performance.

“This bus depot is one component of many county projects that are making a difference for our environment such as converting our fleets to electric and reducing harmful emissions,” said Marc Elrich, county executive. “This infrastructure project will improve the county’s resilience, and we are proud to be at the forefront amongst local governments when it comes to projects like this.”

Outcomes

1

Montgomery County can ensure uninterrupted service of its 44 bus electric fleet even in the event of multi-day utility grid outages

2

Lifetime reduction of county emissions is estimated to be 62% or 155,000 tons of greenhouse gases

3

The county has a new, powerful source of 100% renewable electricity that can be directed out of the microgrid to support the main power grid as needed

4

Montgomery County’s work stands as a national model for municipalities and private fleet owners to transition to sustainable, resilient electric power

5

The use of a P3 (public-private) partnership enabled the county to build the microgrid while minimizing upfront payments

Lessons Learned

1

The innovative financing of public-private partnership (P3) projects allows towns/cities/counties to overcome investment challenges presented by impactful projects

Something Unique

The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) provided the county with a $300,000 grant to fund the nearly 1.7 megawatts of solar PV canopies

Who Should Consider

Towns/cities/counties looking to implement projects that build energy resilience and advance sustainability

Last Updated

Mar 31st, 2022
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