The city of West Palm Beach has been an active supporter of electric vehicle adoption for both its fleet and its citizens. The city recently partnered with Florida Power and Light (FPL) in a pilot program to jointly purchase five all-electric, zero-emissions activity buses that will be used for the city’s parks and recreation programming, including after school services, summer camps, senior activities, and more. Two large 72-passenger buses will be delivered by June 2020, and three smaller 31-passenger buses will be delivered by September 2020. As part of the pilot program, FPL will study how the bus batteries can be used as a grid resource and how bidirectional charging can allow energy stored in the bus batteries to flow back into the grid. This would encourage peak demand shaving, as the buses would be finished with their routes and parked while delivering energy to the grid during peak hours. The city is the first in the state of Florida to add electric buses to its fleet, which will replace diesel buses and ultimately lower fleet emissions, while providing clean transportation for its recreation program participants.
The EV bus pilot program builds upon the city’s ongoing efforts to expand the use of electric vehicles and reduce emissions. In early 2019, West Palm Beach partnered with Tesla to install 38 charging stations as part of the company’s Destination Charging Program. Half of the stations have universal chargers and half of the stations have Tesla-specific chargers to accommodate both types of charging ports. Tesla donated the stations and infrastructure at no cost to the city.