Innovative collaboration could serve as model for electric transportation throughout the state.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (July 31, 2019) – The City of West Palm Beach today announced a plan to purchase five electric-powered “school” buses in partnership with Florida Power & Light Company. The buses will both transport children for the Parks and Recreation Department, and the batteries in the buses will provide power to the electric grid during peak times of demand for electricity.
Under the resolution passed by the City Commission, the current fleet of aging diesel-powered buses will be replaced with zero-emissions transportation for the City’s community centers with charging stations located at Howard Park and Gaines Park. The buses will run on an electric motor that can go as far as 100 miles on one charge and can store energy when not in use. When fully charged, the batteries in the five buses have enough combined energy to charge nearly 100,000 iPhones. The school buses are equipped with seatbelts and feature aisles that are six inches wider than conventional models.
Electric school buses have predictable schedules that make them ideal for storing power that can be sent back to the grid – a concept known as “vehicle-to-grid” technology. The City’s program with FPL will be the first in Florida, a state with more than 9,000 school buses. This vehicle-to-grid initiative will be closely watched as a possible model for similar installations around the state.
“This exciting partnership with FPL is an opportunity for the City of West Palm Beach to pioneer an important new transportation program,” said Mayor Keith A. James. “It is a win-win, as the City’s community center users will receive state-of-the-art, clean, quiet transportation that will help speed the adoption of electric vehicles for everyone. This will help our city reach its goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”
“Partnering with the City of West Palm Beach to provide electric school buses further represents the next step in the electrification of transportation,” said Matt Valle, Vice President of Development, Florida Power & Light Company. “We are working toward making Florida a leader in electric vehicles, and it makes sense to start right here in our backyard. West Palm Beach is a leader in sustainability and resilience, and they are an ideal partner. This electric school bus project will benefit all of our customers and create a blueprint for the future of transportation for the remaining 9,000 school buses in Florida to eventually follow.”
The purchase includes five buses – three smaller 24-passenger vehicles and two larger buses that can each transport 71 passengers. The buses will be owned by the City, and the battery system will be owned by FPL. The City will pay about a third of the cost of each new bus, about what it would have spent on fossil-fuel powered replacement vehicles. FPL will pay the remainder to purchase the battery systems. FPL will also fund the construction of electric charging stations for the buses at Howard Park and Gaines Park.
For more information about the City of West Palm Beach, please visit http://www.wpb.org. To contact the City of West Palm Beach, please call (561) 822-1400.
Attachments: The five electric school buses will look like those pictured in the photograph. The smaller bus can carry 24 passengers and the larger bus can transport 71 riders.