Montgomery County officials recently announced the completion of the nation’s largest bus microgrid and charging infrastructure project in Silver Spring.
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Congressman Jamie Raskin, County Council President Gabe Albornoz, Council Vice President Evan Glass, Federal, State and local officials recently celebrated the completion of the Brookville Smart Energy Depot in Silver Spring with a ribbon-cutting event. The nation’s largest solar bus charging infrastructure project will supply clean energy to the County Department of Transportation’s (MCDOT) growing Ride On electric bus fleet.
The project was completed through a partnership between the County’s Department of General Services (DGS) and AlphaStruxure, a leader in Energy as a Service (EaaS) solutions. It is the third microgrid in the U.S. that will use solar power to charge buses for public transportation.
The project was delivered at no upfront cost to the County through an EaaS contract, a long-term agreement ensuring predictable operating expenses and guaranteed performance without upfront capital expenditures.
According to the press release:
“This project has been garnering attention nationally because it is innovative, groundbreaking, and will help us achieve our ambitious climate action plan to reduce all carbon emissions by 2035,” said County Executive Elrich. “Transportation is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas. We are leading by example by going emission-free. We are the third nationally to have solar-powered charging stations for our buses and we are the largest so far. We should be able to fill these charging stations with 70 electric buses by 2026. We have already got a good start of 14 and expect to order another 30 or so next year for a total of about 44 buses. We are well on our way to our goal of an emissions-free fleet by 2035 and improving the County’s resilience. I want to thank DGS, MCDOT, and AlphaStruxure, along with their parent companies Schneider Electric and Carlyle, for working together with us to make this project a reality for Montgomery County.”
“The path toward a greener future is through a greener transportation fleet,” said Council Vice President Glass. “The Brookville microgrid will allow us to reduce our carbon emissions, improve our air quality and take us one step closer to meeting our climate goals. This is a great moment for transit and our environment.”
The project includes solar panels installed on tall canopies with charging stations, onsite battery storage and backup generation at an existing MCDOT Ride On bus depot. It will provide clean, renewable energy to charge up to 70 electric buses by 2026, with ample electric storage. The project contributes significantly to expanding the needed infrastructure for the County’s growing zero-emission fleet, of which MCDOT Ride On transit buses are a major part. The County has an aggressive goal to transition its fleet, including buses and maintenance vehicles, to zero carbon emissions by 2035.
The County currently has 14 electric buses and will be purchasing additional buses once a new procurement contract for up to 100 buses is complete early next year. Federal funds were used to purchase the first four electric buses. The depot will meet the full charging capacity of the depot, 70 electric buses, by 2026.
This resilient microgrid will provide uninterrupted power to MCDOT’s Ride On transit electric buses. Transitioning 70 buses from diesel to electric, powered by the on-site clean energy microgrid, will reduce lifetime emissions by 62 percent equivalent to more than 160,000 tons of greenhouse gas reduction over the next 25 years.