Tucson Electric Power is supporting Sun Tran’s efforts to introduce electric buses into its fleet and get them up to speed.

For more than a year, TEP has helped the local transit provider develop an electric bus pilot program that is expected to hit the streets beginning early next year.

TEP’s Ryan Anderson, Senior Key Account Manager, and Raymundo Martinez, Principal of Emerging Technology & Innovations, served on an advisory committee tasked with helping Sun Tran lease its first electric bus.

Now Sun Tran is planning to bring at least three additional 40-foot electric buses into its fleet thanks to a $2.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) that was announced last week.

The city’s pilot program was among 38 projects awarded a total of $84.9 million in grants through the FTA’s Low- or No-Emission Grant program, which promotes the deployment of advanced propulsion technology for transit vehicles and infrastructure.

To support the electrification of Sun Tran’s bus fleet, TEP will provide ongoing technical and planning support as well as matching funds for bus charging stations and other infrastructure as needed.

“We’re proud to participate in a project that will help improve the sustainability of public transportation and provide value to our customers and community,” said Dallas Dukes, TEP Vice President of Energy Programs and Pricing. “TEP’s expanded use of wind and solar resources along with the increased use of electric vehicles will result in further reductions in greenhouse gas emissions for a cleaner environment.”

This isn’t the first time that TEP and Sun Tran have partnered on an electric transportation project. The 2014 launch of Sun Link’s modern electric streetcar was the culmination of years of planning and coordination between the transit system and TEP, which constructed the electrical infrastructure and upgraded equipment to support its operation.

TEP also backed the purchase of zero-emission electric shuttles for use in the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. The electric shuttles are expected to be put into service this fall.

Sun Tran General Manager Steve Spade said he’s grateful for TEP’s contributions to electrifying their fleet.

“Electric bus technology is important to us as our industry evolves from diesel and compressed natural gas to electric,” Spade said. “It’s important for us to stay cutting edge to provide a cost-effective service that’s good for the environment. We appreciate having TEP partner with us to provide the technical knowledge that will lead us through this planning process and ensure we have the right infrastructure to support it.”

The Arizona Corporation Commission approved an electric vehicle policy last month to encourage electrification of the state’s transportation sector. TEP has been working with the Arizona Department of Transportation and other state utilities and stakeholders to develop a plan for building and supporting EV infrastructure.

TEP offers residential customers with EVs a discount on their electric service under our Time-of-Use or Demand Time-of-Use pricing plans to encourage EV charging during off-peak hours. TEP also is planning to offer financial incentives to residential customers and homebuilders who install home charging systems.

For more information about EVs and TEP’s EV program, visit https://www.tep.com/electric-vehicles/.

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