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Solar power to charge Dover’s electric buses with $2.5 million federal grant

Canopy with solar panels to reduce maintenance and energy costs

Emily Lytle
Dover Post
The canopy and solar panel project will happen at the parking area at the Dover Operations and Administration Facility, 900 Public Safety Blvd.

Delaware’s public transportation is about to get a little greener. The Delaware Transit Corporation received a $2.5 million federal grant to install solar panels at a bus parking facility in Dover. 

The project includes a canopy system, which will help protect the fleets during extreme weather year round. On top of that canopy, about 60,000 square feet of solar panels will provide power to the facility and the six electric buses there.

While the project has not been designed yet, it will provide up to 900 kilowatt hours of energy when it’s finished, said C.R. McLeod, director of community relations for the Delaware Department of Transportation.

This Federal Transit Administration grant will allow the DTC to generate its own clean power to reduce operating costs and help meet the state’s sustainability goals. Secretary of Transportation Jennifer Cohan said this grant adds onto ongoing efforts like growing the fleet of fully electric buses and converting paratransit buses to propane. 

“Our public transportation system is evolving to become more environmentally friendly and efficient,” Cohan said. “Modifying existing infrastructure with this grant to increase our clean energy capabilities is another win for all of us.”

Sen. Tom Carper agreed. “From electric buses that reduce the carbon emissions going into our air and provide travel choices to Delawareans, to the solar array that will power those vehicles and the facility that houses them, Delaware Transit Corporation is leveraging federal dollars to make smart investments,” Carper said. “This is what I call a win-win: Delaware gets a cleaner environment and saves taxpayer dollars on energy costs at the same time.”

The parking area at the Dover Operations and Administration Facility, 900 Public Safety Blvd., has 102 bus parking spaces. It is the primary bus storage location in central Delaware.  

It houses fixed route and paratransit buses, including the six electric buses, a bus wash and other support services. The solar panels will help reduce maintenance costs and extend the service life of vehicles while lowering energy costs and promoting the use of clean sustainable energy. 

John Sisson, DTC’s Chief Executive Officer, said the new project will increase the facility’s energy capability after an earlier FTA grant allowed the installation of solar panels in 2009. “We are very excited to continue our efforts towards a cleaner transportation network,” Sisson said. 

This grant was included in the $464 million in infrastructure grants that FTA announced Aug. 11. Delaware joins the 49 total states and 96 projects that aim to improve the safety and reliability of bus systems. For the full list of projects, read here.