Elec­tric buses grant awarded

Plant con­struc­tion close to be­gin­ning

Porterville Recorder - - FRONT PAGE - By RICK ELKINS [email protected]­villere­corder.com

Work should be­gin within the next 60 days on Green­power Motor Com­pany’s elec­tric bus man­u­fac­tur­ing plant here and the com­pany hopes to be­gin pro­vid­ing the City of Porter­ville elec­tric tran­sit buses within 12 months.

On Thurs­day, the long-awaited an­nounce­ment was made that the Cal­i­for­nia Air Re­sources Board was award­ing $9.5 mil­lion to Porter­ville to be a test city for an all-elec­tric bus tran­sit sys­tem. The money will pay for nine elec­tric 40-pas­sen­ger buses and 11 charg­ing sta­tions. Green­power is do­nat­ing a 10th bus.

In ad­di­tion to the money, part of the grant is the city will pro­vide $5-$6 mil­lion in in-kind ser­vices.

“The city will be main­tain­ing the buses and do­ing all the re­port­ing,” said City Man­ager John Lol­lis.

The grant is sig­nif­i­cant not only be­cause of the money, but it puts Porter­ville on the green map of Cal­i­for­nia. Porter­ville is the only test city and Green­power is the ex­clu­sive builder of the buses for the pi­lot pro­gram.

The grant has been in the works for months. Last sum­mer the city took its fi­nal steps in se­cur­ing the grants, but its for­mal an­nounce­ment was slow in com­ing.

Fraser Atkin­son, chair­man of Green­power, said the com­pany is close to be­gin­ning site work at its lo­ca­tion on Air­port Drive where the com­pany pur­chased 9.3 acres.

“It’s good to get that across the fin­ish line,” Atkin­son said of the grant, adding they are nearly ready to be­gin Phase 1 of the con­struc­tion which is the cor­po­rate of­fice and 50,000 square feet of the mod­u­lar as­sem­bly line. The plant will be con­structed in three phases, ba­si­cally end to be­gin­ning. Even­tu­ally, the U-shaped plant will cover 150,000 square feet and al­low the com­pany to build any of its buses or vans, in­clud­ing a dou­ble-decker, 100-pas­sen­ger bus.

“There should be ac­tiv­ity on that site sooner than later,” he said Wed­nes­day. A ground­break­ing will prob­a­bly not be held un­til Jan­uary.

Part of Phase 1 is the fi­nal as­sem­bly and that will al­low the com­pany to bring par­tially as­sem­bled buses to Porter­ville, fin­ish as­sem­bly and then roll them off the as­sem­bly line


Right now, he said, they are just fo­cus­ing on the first phase which will take about six months to build.

“Our ob­jec­tive is to do all the fin­ish­ing work here. The more we can do here the bet­ter,” he said.

He added, build­ing the plant is just one task. They also need to hire and train work­ers.


The grant, first re­ported by The Recorder in June, will test the dura­bil­ity and cost ef­fec­tive­ness of the 40-foot ze­roe­mis­sion buses on all nine of the city’s tran­sit routes, in­clud­ing the route which takes riders to Ea­gle Moun­tain Casino.

Lol­lis said the charg­ing sta­tions will be lo­cated at the city’s cor­po­ra­tion yard where the buses can be charged overnight, and also at the city tran­sit cen­ter. Quick-charge sta­tions will also be lo­cated around town and Lol­lis said there will be a charg­ing sta­tion at the casino.

“We look for­ward to work­ing with Green­power in re­plac­ing our ag­ing ac­tive-fleet to 100 per­cent elec­tric buses that pro­duce zero emis­sions,” stated Richard Tree, city tran­sit man­ager. “Sub­stan­tial grants like this one are driv­ing the en­tire in­dus­try for­ward, and mak­ing all-elec­tric the new norm in pub­lic trans­porta­tion, while play­ing a sig­nif­i­cant role in ac­com­plish­ing our mis­sion to im­prove the en­vi­ron­ment in our com­mu­nity and the Val­ley.”

Lol­lis said the grant states the buses will be in op­er­a­tion by 2018.

“The ob­jec­tive is to have as much data in two years as pos­si­ble,” said Lol­lis, in­clud­ing what will be the cost for elec­tric­ity to charge the buses.

CARB’S award to the City of Porter­ville was one of only nine awards from the highly com­pet­i­tive Zero-emis­sion Truck and Bus Pi­lot Pro­gram. The grant award is part of Cal­i­for­nia Cli­mate In­vest­ments, a statewide pro­gram to re­duce green­house gas emis­sions while pro­vid­ing clean-air ben­e­fits to Cal­i­for­nia neigh­bor­hoods, with an em­pha­sis on dis­ad­van­taged com­mu­ni­ties. Cal­i­for­nia Cli­mate In­vest­ments pro­grams are funded by the Green­house Gas Re­duc­tion Fund us­ing pro­ceeds from the state’s cap-and-trade auc­tions.

Projects like the one in Porter­ville are in­tended to help ac­cel­er­ate tech­nol­ogy com­mer­cial­iza­tion by plac­ing sig­nif­i­cant num­bers of zero-emis­sion and near zero-emis­sion trucks and buses in clus­ters as well as in­stalling the in­fra­struc­ture nec­es­sary to sup­port the project ve­hi­cles, said the com­pany in a press release

“We are ex­cited to be work­ing with the City of Porter­ville on a sys­tem-wide de­ploy­ment of our all-elec­tric tran­sit buses and charg­ing in­fra­struc­ture,” said Atkin­son. “The Porter­ville project will serve as a model for other op­er­a­tors in the San Joaquin Val­ley Air Pol­lu­tion Con­trol District and across North Amer­ica who are seek­ing to de­ploy not just a ze­roe­mis­sion ve­hi­cle, but a ze­roe­mis­sion so­lu­tion.”


Im­age is of the EV350 tran­sit bus which, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany boasts the lat­est elec­tric drive and bat­tery tech­nolo­gies and a new light­weight chas­sis.

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