AUSTIN (KXAN) — With a goal to transform its bus fleet to all-electric, zero-emissions vehicles by 2035, CapMetro is set to begin construction on a $34 million solar-powered charging site this fall.
The Austin transit authority has collaborated with HOLT Renewables and bp pulse for design and construction of the project, per a news release. The solar canopies will offer overhead charging for CapMetro’s electrified fleet.
This comes after CapMetro invested in the purchase of 200 zero-emissions buses back in 2021, as part of its efforts to pivot toward an all-electric fleet. A CapMetro spokesperson confirmed Wednesday 12 electric buses are in services, with dozens more set to be delivered in the coming months.
“We’ll be able to get more of our zero-emissions buses out on the road to provide a quieter and more comfortable ride for our customers,” CapMetro President and CEO Dottie Watkins said in the release. “We look forward to this partnership with HOLT Renewables as we continue to expand our sustainability efforts across the Central Texas region.”
The upcoming canopy system will convert sunlight into electricity, with 12 acres and more than 7,000 panels dedicated to the upcoming infrastructure, located at CapMetro’s North Operations bus yard at 9315 McNeil Road. The solar panels will hang over the buses and a pantograph — or framework connecting the bus to the panels via overhead wires — will drop down to begin charging the vehicle.
“We see this as, really, that next step toward providing the community with zero-emissions transportation,” said Kevin Chavez, HOLT Renewables’ sales operations manager.
Construction on the project is set to begin in October and wrap in January 2025. The project is being funded by CapMetro, a transit authority spokesperson told KXAN Wednesday. The agency anticipates to receive some incentives and rebates from the city following its completion.
Aaron Arriaga, commercial project developer at HOLT Renewables, said they are in close contact with both CapMetro and Austin Energy to ensure this project — one Arriaga said was the first of its kind nationally — goes smoothly.
“We’re the first ones to build something like this, but we want to be the first ones to build it right,” he said. “We don’t want it to be the first of its kind to deploy, and then impede on the operations of the bus transit authority. So we’re working really close together, and that’s where the beauty comes in. This project is the first of its kind and everybody’s rallying around each other.”