Portland, OR. Meals on Wheels People has introduced a new vehicle into its fleet – an all-electric van with a refrigeration unit powered by solar energy. The van was funded by a grant from the Portland General Electric (PGE) Drive Change Fund and was built by Lightning eMotors of Loveland, Colorado.
The Lightning Electric Transit Van is a zero-emission electric vehicle. The van is believed to be the first electric van deployed in the United States to have a fully functioning solar-powered refrigeration system, used to keep meals fresh for delivery. The refrigeration unit is powered by a 12-volt battery pack that is charged by the vehicle when the van is plugged in and by a solar panel when the vehicle is in the sun.
The PGE Drive Change Fund is funded via the Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Clean Fuels Program and is awarded annually through a competitive grant process. Meals on Wheels People received the grant in 2020. The PGE Drive Change Fund allowed Meals on Wheels People to purchase two electric vehicles and install electric vehicle charging stations at its headquarters in Multnomah Village, allowing staff, volunteers and the public to charge their vehicles while on location.
“Sustainability is part of our corporate culture and Meals on Wheels People is committed to reducing its impact on the environment,” said Meals on Wheels People CEO Suzanne Washington. “Converting to electric vehicles is just one step in our Green Initiative and helped us earn a spot on the list of 100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon. We are extremely grateful to PGE for providing us the funding for our new electric vehicles and charging stations.”
The van will be used for the Meals 4 Kids, which serves qualified children and families within the City of Portland experiencing food insecurity and is funded by the Portland Children’s Levy.
Here’s a video about the program:
“We’re thrilled to support the Meals on Wheels People mission,” said Eva DeCesaro, manager of PGE’s Clean Fuels Program. “This electric van and charging infrastructure will contribute to the reduction of emissions not just for the wonderful people at Meals on Wheels, but for everyone they serve, and the larger community here in Oregon.”
To build the Class 3 vehicle, Lightning eMotors partnered with refrigeration manufacturer Volta Air, based in Canada, and solar-panel supplier Merlin Solar of San Jose, California. The van is capable of traveling delivery routes while maintaining cargo at refrigerator temperatures – all with zero emissions. Emerald Transportation Solutions of Fayetteville, Georgia installed the refrigeration unit, its battery pack, and insulation liner.
“Last-mile delivery of chilled food via electric vehicles is expected to be an emerging trend as more zero-emission vehicles are deployed,” said Bill Kelley, chief technical officer, Lightning eMotors. “Our engineering team worked very closely with Volta Air to assure seamless integration of this innovative battery charging and refrigeration functionality. It’s a pleasure to be able to deliver this innovative van to Meals on Wheels People.”
About Meals on Wheels People:
Meals on Wheels People has been changing lives, one meal at a time, since 1970. We provide more than a meal to thousands of older adults in the greater Portland metro area. Our service not only alleviates hunger and social isolation but allows seniors to live independently with dignity in their own homes. Aging in place reduces depression, falls, and hospitalization as well as the high cost of institutional care. For more
information, visit mowp.org.
About Portland General Electric:
Portland General Electric (NYSE: POR) is a fully integrated energy company based in Portland, Oregon, with operations across the state. The company serves approximately 900,000 customers with a service area population of 2 million Oregonians in 51 cities. PGE has 16 generation plants in five Oregon counties, and maintains and operates 14 public parks and recreation areas. For over 130 years, PGE has delivered safe, affordable and reliable energy to Oregonians. Together with its customers, PGE has the No. 1 voluntary renewable energy program in the U.S. PGE and its 3,000 employees are working with customers to build a clean energy future. In 2019, PGE, employees, retirees and the PGE Foundation donated $4.3 million and volunteered 32,900 hours with more than 700 nonprofits across Oregon. For more information visit portlandgeneral.com/news.