E-Buses Bought From Now-Bankrupt Manufacturer By Blue Enclave Are Now All Out Of Commission

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A Democratic enclave in Wyoming purchased electric buses to reduce emissions, but the buses are indefinitely inoperable after their manufacturer went bankrupt earlier this summer, the Cowboy State Daily reported.

Jackson, Wyoming, and Teton County formed the Southern Teton Area Rapid Transit (START) system, which bought eight electric buses from Proterra to add to its fleet of 31 diesel buses, the Cowboy State Daily reported. Proterra, which itself was at the center of a conflict of interest controversy including Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, went bankrupt in August, and START’s eight e-buses are now out of commission given that the manufacturer can no longer readily supply the parts needed for repairs.

The last of the START Proterra buses went out of service two months ago, according to the Cowboy State Daily. In fiscal year 2021, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) gave the Wyoming Department of Transportation $1.1 million in taxpayer funds to buy e-buses for START, according to the FTA website. (RELATED: Biden Admin Hands Out $1.7 Billion For Electric Buses Despite Their Propensity To Burst Into Flames)

Proterra has reportedly asserted that it will fill remaining orders while it goes through the bankruptcy proceedings, according to Cowboy State Daily. It is unclear whether that commitment applies to orders for smaller parts needed for repairs.

“It is our intent to find the necessary parts to get them back up and operable, and we are assessing ways to do that,” a START spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

START will not scrap the buses, and it remains committed to finding ways to bring down the emissions of its operations, the spokesperson added.

The buses had operational problems before the company went bankrupt, according to the Cowboy State Daily. In the cold winter months, the battery range of the buses would significantly decrease, especially given that more energy is drained to heat the interior of the buses, according to the Cowboy State Daily. When cold weather drained the batteries, the electric buses reportedly needed to go back into their depots for charging while diesel-powered buses were used to ferry people around as the electric buses regained power.

Teton County voted overwhelmingly for President Joe Biden in the 2020 cycle, according to Politico.

The Wyoming “DOT is committed to supporting the state’s transit providers— whether county, municipality, tribe or other entity—  as they fill the needs in their own communities in a way that best fits their own goals,” an agency spokesperson told the DCNF. “We just help them navigate the rules and regulations of Federal grants because we have a lot of experience working with Federal dollars.”

The Biden administration promoted Proterra as a leading manufacturer of electric buses and component parts before it went bankrupt. Granholm maintained a stake in the company after being confirmed as Energy Secretary in 2021. In her capacity as Energy Secretary, Granholm directed policies which could have favored her own financial interests, and she eventually closed her position in the firm late in May 2021, netting capital gains amounting to about $1.6 million.

“FTA requires Buy America compliant vehicles, to ensure American taxpayers funds are spent in the U.S. but does not advise grantees about which brand of bus to purchase when grants are awarded,” an FTA spokesperson told the DCNF. “As part of the largest-ever investment in American transit manufacturing jobs, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Federal Transit Administration has awarded $2.3 billion in the past two years through Low and No Emission Bus grants, which included a $945,178 selection to the Wyoming Department of Transportation on behalf of Teton Village for Fiscal Year 2023.”

Proterra and the town of Jackson did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

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