Environment

High Valley Transit implements temporary fossil fuel solution for electric bus charging

High Valley Transit buses destined for Heber and back must recharge at the Ecker Hill transit station, where a propane-powered electric charging station provides the necessary power to charge the buses.

SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah — In May of 2023, High Valley Transit (HVT) announced that it would be introducing eight electric buses into its operational fleet, designed to serve routes connecting Heber and Salt Lake City. While these eco-friendly additions have been a welcome development, HVT currently operates out of a temporary facility located at the Ecker Hill transit station, where there is no electric grid available for charging the buses.

On the Salt Lake City route, HVT relies on an existing electric charging station located in Salt Lake City. However, when it comes to buses destined for Heber and back, they must recharge at the Ecker Hill transit station, where a propane-powered electric charging station provides the necessary power.

High Valley Transit is currently in a transitional phase as it anticipates the completion of its new 7.92-acre transit facility in Summit County. This facility, set to be equipped with various amenities, holds the promise of permanent electric charging stations for the buses. Caroline Rodriguez, the Executive Director of High Valley Transit, has affirmed that these charging stations at the new facility will be powered by the electric grid accessible at the Summit County location, rendering the propane charging system a temporary measure.

According to the most recent staff report, the construction of the new HVT facility is not expected to be fully operational before Feb. 2025.

Park City Solar Power Project

Back in 2016, Park City made the commitment to achieve full reliance on renewable energy by 2032 and for city operations by 2022. The city hit a snag in its 2022 goal for city operations due to the Elektron solar project, a collaborative funding effort with five other entities, which broke ground in October of 2021. This partnership includes Salt Lake City, Summit County, Utah Valley University, Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain, and when built, it will be among the largest solar generators connected to the Rocky Mountain Power system. The Elektron solar project, an 80-megawatt (MW) solar farm, is now slated to commence operations by July 2024.

Solar Farm Construction Challenges

Originally slated for completion by March 2023, the Elektron solar project encountered several setbacks, primarily due to federal actions impacting the sourcing of parts, particularly those related to solar panel manufacturers in China. While some of these hurdles have been mitigated, the global supply chain’s slow recovery continues to pose challenges. Approximately 80% of solar panels originate from China and other Asian countries. Even though there was hope for completion by the end of 2023, the six entities are still waiting for their renewable power.

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