VTA electric bus at charging station
CEC Proposes Funding for Groundbreaking VTA Fleet Electrification Project

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority is included on a funding proposal list to receive a $4.68 million grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC) to fund a groundbreaking fleet electrification project.

VTA will install next-generation charging infrastructure powered by an on-site microgrid to provide clean, reliable, locally-generated electricity to fuel the agency’s fleet of zero-emission, battery-electric transit buses.  The CEC funding proposal list is expected to be approved in December.

“VTA’s work to reduce stress on the state’s electric grid while converting to a zero-emission bus fleet, will benefit transit agencies across the state. We are excited and honored to have the support of the California Energy Commission on this important, groundbreaking project,” said Gary Miskell, VTA’s Chief Innovation Officer, who has guided this effort from its inception.

VTA is leading this cutting-edge electric bus charging project in conjunction with Proterra, Scale Microgrid Solutions, and Schneider Electric, with community outreach support from Lehigh University’s Institute for Cyber Physical Infrastructure and Western Regional Office.

The funding will allow VTA to complete work to deploy 1.5 megawatts of on-site solar energy at the agency’s Cerone Yard paired with a 1MW/4MWh stationary battery energy storage system and state of the art microgrid control system from Scale Microgrid Solutions. That system will help power two Proterra 1.5-megawatt fleet chargers with 34 charging dispensers. The microgrid and charging infrastructure will be linked together by a next generation switchgear and controls package designed by Schneider Electric. Clean energy generated by the new solar canopy will help lower electricity operating costs and provide increased resilience, while helping to manage stress on California’s electric grid.

In the event of a power outage, such as a public safety power shutoff, the microgrid can provide more than 24 hours of firm electric capacity to VTA, allowing emergency transit operations to continue serving the public. The clean energy microgrid will be optimized to deliver demand flexibility to VTA, helping the agency better manage its overall electricity usage while simultaneously reducing capacity constraints for the local grid.

The California Air Resources Board requires public transit agencies to transition to 100% zero-emission fleets by 2040. VTA is working to achieve this important goal by 2036.  For large fleets of vehicles, where customers need to address the challenge of charging dozens or hundreds of vehicles in a single fleet yard, Proterra’s 1.5-megawatt fleet charging system can be configured to power up to 20 vehicles simultaneously or up to 40 vehicles to charge sequentially, one after the other at full power.

Ryan Goodman, CEO and Co-founder of Scale Microgrid Solutions: “This project will provide a blueprint for fleet electrification throughout the United States. We are extremely grateful to the folks at VTA and California Energy Commission for giving us this opportunity, and we look forward to helping the state achieve its ambitious climate action agenda.” 

Lehigh students and faculty will develop educational resources and content to inform and engage local and disadvantaged communities in benefits of transit electrification and the charging infrastructure. The Lehigh team will also evaluate and identify approaches to make the charging infrastructure resilient in the face of outages, fire hazards, and other disruptions. This will involve engaging with relevant stakeholders such as local emergency management and fire departments.

“As an educational institution, Lehigh University is well poised to translate the technological developments that VTA and its partners will undertake into educational resources and opportunities,” said Shalinee Kishore, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Associate Director of Lehigh’s Institute for Cyber Physical Infrastructure and Energy (I-CPIE).

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