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GreenPower News

GreenPower to install electric charging stations

Ten set for maintenance yard, one in transit center

By MYLES BARKER mbarker@portervillerecorder.com

Charging Station

Charging Station

In a couple of months, the city will see a number of electrical charging stations for GreenPower Motor Company’s electric buses in the city’s maintenance yard and at the Porterville Transit Center.

On Thursday, the motor business announced that it has entered into a sales contract to supply 10, 40-foot, zero-emission, all-electric GreenPower transit buses with the City of Porterville for deployment on all nine city transit routes. The contract also includes 11 charging systems to be installed at the maintenance facility and transit center for a total purchase price of approximately $9 million.

Additionally, the contract provides the City of Porterville, or other customers, an option to purchase an additional 20 buses with the same terms and conditions as the initial purchase.

“This conversion of the entire Porterville transit system to GreenPower zero-emission buses is the most innovative project that I have been part of to date, and it is ground-breaking for the industry,” said Brendan Riley, the president of the environmentally-prudent company. “In addition, we have 20 buses available on this contract for other transit properties, including the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District who are seeking to deploy not just a zero-emission vehicle, but a zero-emission solution.”

Riley said the first bus is scheduled to be delivered in the fall of this year with the remaining nine buses three to four months later. He said GreenPower has also agreed to make available, for use as a spare bus, a 40-foot, zero-emission, all-electric transit bus when GreenPower is not using the vehicle for demonstration purposes.

Riley said 10 of the electric charging stations will be located in the city’s maintenance yard, and will charge the buses overnight. He added that the charging stations will send 100 kilowatts to each bus.

Riley said there will be another, more powerful, charger at the transit center for opportunity charging, which he said will send 200kW to each bus.

“Basically we will have a supercharger at the transit center and if we have extra time where the buses are sitting there we can add a little charge,” Riley said.

Richard Tree, manager of the city’s transit center, said there is no issue in charging all 10 electric buses at the same time, but noted that doing so is a little more expensive.

“We can receive discounted pricing if we stagger the charging if we needed to, but once we get the final engineering and get GreenPower and their charging stations involved we will decide what would be most cost-effective and also what our needs are,” Tree said, noting that Southern California Edison (SCE) will provide the electricity to charge the buses.

Riley said on average, each bus will take about three hours to charge fully at the maintenance yard and perhaps a little less than that at the transit center.

“If we do deliver with bigger batteries, the maximum charge we are going to see is a four-hour charge for the overnight charging,” Riley said, adding that each bus can travel 220 miles.

He added that the charging stations in the maintenance yard can sustain minus-10 F all the way up to about 120 F. Riley said the charger at the transit station can withstand up to 140 F, which he said has a lot to do with the fact that it is equipped with a liquid cooling system.
“It is amazing, it is actually a new product in development and these are very well-tested things,” Tree said, adding, “All the electric car companies that are doing high rate for fast charging are looking at these liquid-cooled plugs so they can charge at high temperatures. They are pretty awesome.”

Contrary to popular belief, Tree said SCE has plenty of power to provide in the city for the project, adding that the electric utility company just needs an idea of how many electric buses Porterville is going to purchase within the next 20 years.

“They just want to know what is likely the final build out so they can build or readjust their infrastructure to ensure that there is proper supply to the corporation yard,” Tree said, adding that the ultimate plan is to have around 40 electric buses in the city within the next 20 years. “That would be our goal as a future-sized Porterville Transit.”

Riley said it is possible the extra electricity generated in the city may lower costs for residents.

“The more deliberate power that is out there, the lower that expense can be because it is spread out more,” he said.

However, Tree said he hopes in the near future, the buses won’t have to rely solely on electricity to get the job done.

“One thing that is very important for this project and our funding partner is the use of renewable energy to help offset the costs of purchasing electricity from the utility provider,” he said, adding that both the transit center and the corporation yard have a renewable energy component, which he hopes to soon take advantage of. “As the project moves along we hope to increase the use of renewable energy, and at some point, hopefully be completely, so to speak, off the grid. That is the ultimate build out.”

Relying exclusively on renewable energy will be especially beneficial during the scorching summer sun or the unforgiving frigid winter, extreme weather Riley said can shorten the life of the electric buses.

“Air conditioning is not necessarily the biggest draw on power, it is actually the colder days that we have to watch out for more,” Riley said, adding that energy shortage problems with the buses would be an extremely rare occurrence. “All of our testing has shown that we meet the range requirement with the electric heaters on the buses so we don’t foresee any problems with any of that.”

Tree said he doesn’t have a problem declaring the GreenPower project as one of the biggest Porterville has been a part of, and one that will surely put the city on the map.

“The technologies that we are going to be unveiling here in Porterville are innovative and it is going to bring a spotlight on the city,” Tree said.

Riley said he is excited not only about partnering with the city, but also because he believes the future of public transit systems is looking very bright.

“The buses we are replacing are not some weird, goofy, crummy little buses, they are very nicely maintained, very nicely equipped and appointed,” Riley said, adding, “So we are very pleased to be going into a place where not only do we have people who are interested in using our buses, but already know how to embrace modern technology and very contemporary systems.”

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