Juneau’s first electric bus manufacturer files for bankruptcy

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Proterra, a once-prominent electric-bus manufacturer, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday. Formerly valued at $1.6 billion, the Southern California company’s current financial stance places its assets and liabilities within the range of $500 million to $1 billion. Proterra’s market valuation has plummeted to a mere $362 million, reflecting a staggering 97% decline over the past half-decade.

In 2021, Juneau embraced the electric movement by acquiring a Proterra bus, making it the first community in the state to take the pioneering step. However, the reality fell short of expectations as the bus struggled to complete a full shift due to battery depletion mid-route, especially during the winter months. Further, its turning radius posed challenges, preventing its operation on many of Juneau’s routes. Persistent issues with the bus’ wiring harness compounded the troubles, repeatedly disrupting power to one of the dual motors. These persistent problems led to the nickname of “lemon” for this particular Proterra bus in Juneau.

The struggles extended beyond Juneau, as other municipalities faced similar predicaments. In Pomona, Calif., Foothill Transit encountered significant problems with their electric bus fleet in 2021, with over a third of the vehicles rendered inoperable. A range of issues, including fires and stalling, plagued the fleet of 32 electric buses, leaving 11 of them unusable during that summer.

The transit authority attributed some of these issues to the manufacturer discontinuing parts for the early-generation electric buses after just a few years of operation, as well as repeated breakdowns occurring prematurely—merely seven or eight years into service—despite an expected operational lifespan of 12 years for such buses.

Funding for Juneau’s electric buses came from U.S. taxpayers through the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration’s Low- or No-Emission (Low-No) Grant Program, part of what was called the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that is the Biden Administration’s climate change initiative.

Juneau was awarded $2.3 million from the program to get seven more electric buses, which are expected to be delivered by 2024. These will be made by the manufacturer GILLIG, which also makes the diesel buses that are being gradually retired in Juneau.

The Assembly has set a goal of 80 percent renewable energy by 2045. The energy that powers electric buses in Juneau is largely hydropower supplemented by diesel generators.

26 COMMENTS

  1. The irony is each time the electric bus failed to complete the route in Juneau, the biggest diesel tow truck would be dispatched to tow it back to the bus barn for charging while a diesel powered bus would go out and pick up the stranded passengers to complete the route.
    So what is the solution? Buy more electric buses. We should have a list of the folks who did NOT vote for this insanity so we can send them a thank you card.

  2. Of course when it is someone else’s money (taxpayers0 it is far easier to just ignore the squandering and throwing “good money after bad”. We are being force fed a technology that is not yet cost effective, viable or even environmentally sound, as the pushers would have us believe. With the innovation of the automobile, horses were not ‘outlawed’. No one was forced to buy the ‘newfangled’ noisy invention. Gradually as the technology improved the utility superseded the single horse power traditions and it caught on. The damage to our economy and even environment by the climate cult antics is unconscionable, foolish and blatant.

  3. The CEOs get rich, the products are inefficient, ineffective replacements for proven transportation and the printing press at the Fed goes on and on, all the while making our money we earn worth even less every day. This ” climate emergency” crap is nothing more than a huge added tax on our economy and is doing nothing to change the climate on planet earth.

  4. Just another dumpster fire in long line of dumpster fires. I could also refer to it as just another money pit in a super long line of money pits. One hell of a first term! Let’s go Brandon!!!! YIPPY

  5. “The transit authority attributed some of these issues to the manufacturer discontinuing parts for the early-generation electric buses after just a few years of operation, as well as repeated breakdowns occurring prematurely—merely seven or eight years into service—despite an expected operational lifespan of 12 years for such buses.”

    Twelve years?! That’s a pretty darn short life span! Meanwhile, thousands of Alaskans own, drive and maintain vehicles that last 30-100 years. I am one of those Alaskans, so this is really shocking to me to spend all that money on something so wasteful.

  6. At least they are just cheap “throwaways” easily replaced down at walmart.
    AND thankfully the glaciers will quit melting and swallowing up that overpriced real estate along the mendenhall river (after 2045)
    Two problems solved with the swipe of the taxpayers credit card.
    Have they started construction of the new home that washed away yet?
    Gotta get it finished for next tax season…Looks like they need a new bus!
    Will the new bus come with someone who knows how to “fix” the damn thing?
    If not just park it next to the river…the glacier will fix it.
    Now I get it…Thats why we heard the Juneau Assenmbly playing the Pete Townshend song “Magic Bus” by The Who! It magicly swallows up tax dollars. LOL

  7. I looked up Proterra. The board was made up of a bunch of Liberals who probably knew nothing about buses or transportation. All buses were bought with grants so there was no expectation of success for their product. Just over a month ago Juneau had a huge traffic jam downtown in a large tourist area. The cause? Electric bus failure with little room for the large diesel tow rig.

  8. Just curious, did they drive home the point by dedicating it to the Lemon Creek route? I see they’ve built a proper turnaround where the bus used to have to turn in reverse to avoid breaching the LCCC perimeter.

  9. It would be fun to see the personal bank accounts of all involved in this scam. Surely they donated the proper amounts to their favorite political organizations in order to be held harmless. Too much of this going on.

    • There will be a bailout, as administration officials are invested in Proterra.. Surprise!! Energy komissar Granholm has her personal loot stashed in there.

  10. Unfortunately, many in the community will suffer a loss in their 401K. Blackrock, Vanguard Group, State Street Corp, Charles Schwab Investment Management, JPMorgan Chase Co, and other investment groups you may have as your 401K investment selections have hundreds of thousands to multi-millions of shares: ‘https://www.wallstreetzen.com/stocks/us/nasdaq/ptra/ownership. 58% of Proterra’s shares are insttitutional shareholders and 28.75% are retail investors.

  11. It’s okay, Sec. Granholm sold her stock.
    “Proterra, the electric bus company at the center of an apparent conflict of interest involving Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, has filed for bankruptcy, Reuters reported Monday evening.

    Granholm drew immense scrutiny when it was revealed that she maintained her financial positions in the firm, for which she used to sit on the board of directors, after she assumed her post as the leader of the Department of Energy (DOE) and began to direct policies which could have favored her own financial interests. Granholm eventually closed her position in the firm late in May 2021, and netted capital gains amounting to about $1.6 million”.

    • Good point. Proterra was propped up through federal low-no grants that entailed Proterra bus purchases, received $10M from the PPP on 4/30/2020, and received a $6.5M grant from USDOT from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Likely, there was more funding and in-kind funding received. Yes, some of the federal insiders likely received some good ROI.

      Sources
      ‘https://www.federalpay.org/paycheck-protection-program/proterra-inc-burlingame-ca
      ‘https://www.proterra.com/press-release/low-no-proterra-awards-2021/
      ‘https://www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/us-transportation-secretary-lahood-highlights-american-innovation-and-green-jobs

  12. Considering the leftist mindset of the majority of Juneauites, I am not surprised that the Assembly jumped on board with the electric bus idea without doing a through research on the viability of their bus. But hey, Juneau didn’t have to fund the “Lemon.” It is always fun to spend “other people’s money.”

    • Not that it matters, but the majority of us didn’t want the stupid thing. But the faux junta, like Anchorage’s politburo, does what it wants anyway.

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