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Portland’s City Buses First in US to be Powered Entirely by Wind

Published by Energy Manager Today

(TriMet unveils two electric buses during event at its Merlo Operations Facility. Image courtesy of TriMet.)

The city of Portland, Oregon has announced that its bus fleet will be powered entirely by wind, which is a transit industry first in the United States, according to TriMet, the agency that operates the city’s mass transit.

The battery-electric buses will be powered by PGE’s Clean Wind renewable energy program. TriMet says it plans to have a non-diesel bus fleet by 2040. So far, there are five battery-electric buses, thanks to a nearly $3.5 million federal grant and PGE.

TriMet’s electric buses have electric motors powered by energy stored in rechargeable battery packs instead of combustion engines fueled by diesel. These buses will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 100-140 tons per year compared to a 40-foot diesel bus and about 75 tons per year compared to TriMet’s eight diesel-hybrid buses. The electric buses have regenerative braking. This means when the vehicle slows, kinetic energy is captured and can be used immediately or stored in the battery for later use.

The agency’s board of directors, on Sept. 26, 2018, approved the plan to transition to a clean energy bus fleet. That transition began April 19 with the official launch of TriMet’s first all-electric bus. The New Flyer Xcelsior CHARGE zero-emission bus has been conducting some initial testing in revenue service since early March. It will soon be joined by four matching electric buses, all of which will run on TriMet Line 62-Murray Blvd in Washington County, and all powered by renewable wind energy.

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