Maryland County Taps AlphaStruxure for Electric Bus Microgrid

May 13, 2021
Montgomery County, Maryland, selected AlphaStruxure — a joint venture between Schneider Electric and the Carlyle Group — to build a bus depot microgrid that will include electric bus chargers.

Montgomery County, Maryland, selected AlphaStruxure — a joint venture between Schneider Electric and the Carlyle Group — to build a bus depot microgrid that will include electric bus chargers.

The 4-MW project for the county outside of Washington, D.C., uses an energy-as-a-service model that doesn’t require upfront payments from the county.

“The Smart Energy Bus Depot project provides a national model for local governments, transit agencies and the private sector looking to electrify their fleets,” David Dise, Montgomery County Department of General Services director, said May 12.

Under the arrangement, AlphaStruxure will build, own and operate the microgrid system at the Brookville bus depot.

The project includes 2 MW of solar photovoltaic canopies, 2 MW of natural gas-fired generation and a 4.3-MWh battery storage system, according to the county.

County to pay 12.3 cents/kWh

In the first year of a 25-year contract, the county will pay 12.3 cents per kWh for power from the microgrid, with annual increases capped at 1.8%, according to the county. Annual payments are expected to grow from about $2 million when the project’s first phase is finished to about $4 million at the end of the contract.

The county said it will also pay AlphaStruxure an annual resilience payment that is comparable to the investment costs the county would need to make to support the deployment of an electric bus fleet.

By charging from its own power supply, the county will avoid utility demand charges and won’t have to set bus charging schedules around the utility’s time-of-use rates, which vary throughout the day.

The bus depot microgrid will include enough chargers to handle at least 44 electric buses. The project’s first phase, expected to be completed by early next year, will include electrical infrastructure, the solar canopies, the battery energy storage system, one generator and up to seven chargers. The county already has four chargers at the depot. The first phase is designed to handle 24 e-buses.

Another generator and up to six more e-bus chargers could be added in a second phase, set to be finished in 2025, according to the county.

Project includes industry-leading companies

The bus depot microgrid will use Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure platform, which includes its microgrid controllers and electrical distribution equipment.

SunPower will build the solar canopies and AB Energy USA will provide the generators, along with a plan for transitioning them to a carbon-neutral fuel.

The project will use Dynapower’s battery storage, charging and energy management software, Mobility House’s ChargePilot charging system and Heliox chargers.

Mortenson will provide construction services, and Arup will serve as the project’s engineer of record.

AlphaStruxure will run the project using a cloud-connected operations center that provides around-the-clock operations, monitoring and optimization of energy performance.

Bus depot microgrid meets resilience, energy goals

The microgrid project blends at least two of Montgomery County’s goals: boosting its resilience from power outages and having zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035.

The county started looking at microgrids after a storm in 2012 knocked out power to 480,000 residents for more than a week.

Using an energy-as-a-service contract, Schneider Electric and Duke Energy Renewables set up two microgrids in 2018 at the county’s public safety headquarters and correctional facility.

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About the Author

Ethan Howland

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