The ski resort community that’s home to the Sundance Film Festival — Park City, Utah — is also the birthplace of something far geekier: a new business model for selling electric buses.
The tourist destination was the first community in the U.S. to buy a fleet of electric buses by leasing the batteries that power the buses from Silicon Valley startup Proterra. The city leases the buses’ batteries out of its operational funds in the same way that it would have bought fuel for diesel buses. Diesel buses are the standard type of bus that most cities use for moving residents around.
The funding innovation is important because it lowered the upfront cost that Park City paid for its new fleet, bringing it closer, or even below, what it would have paid for diesel buses. At the same time, the leasing model also allowed the city to lower its risk around the batteries, which over the past few years have gotten both dramatically lower in cost and somewhat higher in energy density. (…)
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