PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) has equipped its brand new fleet of buses with cost-saving solar panel systems.
The 33 diesel-engine buses all have roof-mounted panels that the agency says will boost battery life and overall performance. The fleet will replace some of the older RIPTA buses that will soon be retired.
The solar panel systems were built by Warwick-based eNow. It cost RIPTA roughly $65,000, two thirds of that was paid for by a renewable energy grant through Rhode Island Commerce.
The lightweight panels will harness solar energy to start the buses and operate on board electronics and auxiliary systems. The panels will also optimize battery life by reducing the strain on the alternator during day-to-day use.
RIPTA CEO Scott Avedisian said the panels were purchased when RIPTA worked with eNow on a pilot program to test the effectiveness of the company’s product on buses.
“Instead of just running a bus and not generating anything from it, the addition of solar panels actually reduces our costs and we figure we will save about 80,000 a year,” said RIPTA’s Chief Executive Officer Scott Avedisian. “Retrofitting tends to be more difficult and more costly so we are looking at how can we make sure our future purchases are as environmentally sensible as possible.”
The solar panel systems are expected to save RIPTA more than $80,000 per year, if they are on the entire fleet.
Avedisian said RIPTA will explore the feasibility of having the panels installed on more buses in the future.