AlphaStruxure, Montgomery County launch integrated microgrid infrastructure project

May 18, 2023
The project features electric bus charging and on-site green hydrogen production for Montgomery County’s EMTOC; by 2035, the site is projected to accommodate over 200 mixed-fleet vehicles.

AlphaStruxure and Montgomery County, Md., have launched an integrated microgrid infrastructure project, featuring electric bus charging and on-site green hydrogen production powered by solar and battery energy storage, for Montgomery County’s Equipment Maintenance and Transit Operation Center (EMTOC).

By 2035, the site is projected to accommodate over 200 mixed-fleet vehicles. This project is expected to begin construction in Q4 2023 and be in operation by Q1 2025. The launch of the project follows the launch of the Brookville Smart Energy Bus Depot, the county’s first fully constructed microgrid-powered bus depot, in October of last year, which was also led by AlphaStruxure.

Comprising 5 MWDC of rooftop and canopy solar generation, 2 MW/7.35 MWh battery energy storage, existing backup generation and up to 4.5 MW of charging capacity, the EMTOC microgrid will provide sustainable, resilient power to a mixed fleet of battery electric and fuel cell electric buses (FCEB), as well as EMTOC's five existing buildings. The microgrid will be interconnected to the Pepco utility and is engineered to operate in island mode indefinitely, ensuring uninterrupted service for the county's constituents during extended grid or power outages and emergency situations.

The microgrid’s solar generation will also provide power for the on-site production of green hydrogen, a resilient power source to FCEBs that have a greater range over battery electric buses, necessary for longer bus routes. By embracing hydrogen fuel technology, Montgomery County can further enhance its equitable bus rapid transit network and create new career and training opportunities for underserved communities.

By fueling the county's initial 13 FCEBs with green hydrogen produced by the microgrid's solar, the solution not only advances the county's goal to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2035, but also reduces their Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 4,000 metric tons of CO2 per year, equivalent to approximately 780 homes' electricity use for one year.

AlphaStruxure will finance the project through the Energy as a Service (EaaS) business model while also delivering all aspects of design, construction and long-term operations and maintenance. The microgrid is delivered without capital expenditures to the county through an EaaS contract, a long-term agreement ensuring predictable operating expenses and guaranteed performance without upfront capital expenditures.

"Once built, the EMTOC microgrid will be the gold standard for resilient, sustainable public transit. This project also further establishes Montgomery County, Md., as the nation’s leading municipality when it comes to embracing the transit infrastructure of tomorrow," said Juan Macias, CEO of AlphaStruxure. "We are thrilled to be the county’s long-term partner on holistic infrastructure that delivers improved, cleaner services to constituents. Our Energy as a Service approach enables us to deliver an integrated bus fleet solution that is bolstered by a resilient energy supply, all without imposing any upfront costs or financial, construction or operating risks on the county. We are excited to be part of this innovative and transformative initiative that will shape the future of public transit for years to come."

“Through our long-term partnership with AlphaStruxure, we’re excited to launch one of the most advanced bus depots in the country,” said Marc Elrich, county executive for Montgomery County. “This project represents a significant milestone in our ongoing efforts to achieve our ambitious climate action, which aims to reduce all carbon emissions by 2035 while substantially enhancing the resilience of our transit services. Of particular excitement is the integration of green hydrogen production, powered by the microgrid, highlighting our commitment to pioneering cutting-edge renewable solutions and leading by example when it comes to sustainable, resilient transportation.”

With an intelligent microgrid in place, the bus depot will work toward eliminating power disruptions while maximizing distributed energy resources for resilience. The technology that makes this intelligence possible includes software tools and IoT-connected hardware. The system’s performance is managed by AlphaStruxure’s IntegrateTM, a cyber-secure digital platform that monitors and optimizes on-site energy and charging infrastructure. The Integrate digital platform provides perspectives and reporting across multi-site environments to model, monitor, execute, analyze and improve operations. 24/7 operators predict and respond to the system in real-time through the AlphaStruxure Network Operations Center.

Montgomery County's commitment to infrastructure that's resilient to climate change became a higher priority after the 2012 derecho when many residents lost power. Statewide, Maryland is working towards a 50 percent zero-emission bus fleet by 2030. Montgomery County’s Department of General Services, the Department of Transportation and the Office of Energy and Sustainability are spearheading this ambitious drive towards achieving net zero emissions by leading the transition of the county's transit fleet and depot infrastructure.