September 23rd, 2020 by Zachary Shahan
In a world first, 46 new electric buses for the Anaheim Transportation Network (ATN) will be charged via a 20-year charging-as-a-service agreement. The city of Anaheim’s transit network intends to be California’s first all-electric bus fleet. The 20-year charging-as-a-service agreement is with AMPLY Power, which is supposed to manage “all aspects of charging.” It includes a “savings guarantee.”
What does “all aspects of charging” mean? It means “system design, installation, equipment purchase, operations and maintenance for a fixed price per kWh consumed.” If you follow the solar energy industry much, this ChaaS (Charging-as-a-Service) agreement may remind you of something, a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement). Indeed, it appears to have been modeled off of solar energy PPAs a bit.
For this particular electric bus fleet, a 545 kW solar canopy is being built that will generate approximately 25% of energy expected to be consumed by the bus fleet. The solar canopy, installed by REC Solar, will cover the whole bus parking and charging area.
With 46 electric buses, how many chargers do you need? Theoretically, if buses were charged at staggered times, you wouldn’t need 46, but the project partners for this one decided one per bus made the most sense. This is a bit surprising, especially since AMPLY Power does mention using a charging schedule for the buses, which it says will result in 99.99% uptime. Even so, it seems that each bus requires its own charger.
Overall, ATN estimates large savings from going electric. It forecasts a savings of $4.8 million in fuel savings over 20 years — and that’s compared to liquid natural gas (LNG) or compressed natural gas (CNG), not diesel.
“Through a service offering with fixed price metered by utilization, fleet customers like ATN can draw a direct economic comparison to dispensing fossil fuel without upfront capital costs and operational uncertainty. The greater Anaheim, Los Angeles and Long Beach metropolitan areas rank the highest of 25 cities studied in the amount of potential savings city bus fleets could gain from electrification programs, with or without managed charging. In its most recent white paper, AMPLY estimated more than 50 percent fuel savings on electricity compared to diesel.”
With 46 electric buses — and more in time — it’s important to have smart and managed charging that doesn’t overload the grid and lead to high electricity costs. “AMPLY’s sophisticated charge automation software can flatten the peak electrical demands below 2 MW and reduce utility service upgrade requirements for ATN, as well as minimize any electric grid impact for Anaheim Public Utilities,” a press release from AMPLY Power about the news states. “Peak load at the site would traditionally be nearly 5 MW without charge management. Optimizing the charging for ATN allows buses to achieve 99.99 percent operational availability at the lowest peak energy demand by reducing time-of-use (TOU) energy and demand costs.”
For those of us not familiar with the Anaheim area, it is perhaps interesting to learn that these buses service The Disneyland Resort®, the Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim Stadium, Honda Center, and Knott’s Berry Farm.”
AMPLY Power also has contracts Tri Delta Transit, SolTrans, and other California transit agencies. Though, as noted at the top, this is the first Charging-as-a-Service contract. I expect to see more of these popping up in coming years, since a fixed contract makes it easy for fleet managers to consider the switch from conventional fossil fuels to electricity, and guaranteed savings aren’t too shabby either. Electric buses that are cleaner, smoother, quieter, and guaranteed to save you money are quite an appealing offer.
California just passed an electric vehicle mandate for 2035. I haven’t seen yet how this related to buses, but, frankly, buses should electrify even quicker than cars. The large fuel savings already make a compelling case in terms of total cost of ownership, and the potential to cut air pollution in urban areas offers a massive economic savings from public health improvements. Air pollution in urban areas is a top cause of premature death in the United States, as well as the cause of much suffering from serious health problems even if they don’t lead to premature death, and buses that are stopping and starting all day long case a significant amount of that pollution. There is no reason they shouldn’t all be electrified in this decade, or even in the next 5 years.
Images courtesy of AMPLY Power
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