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After Electric Bus Burns to Ashes, Connecticut Replaces Fleet With Diesel

Neil Campbell
Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.
Published: July 27, 2022
Connecticut electric bus public transit fire. Fleet replaced by diesel.
A photograph of a State of Connecticut-run electric public transit bus that caught fire, burning to ashes. Two workers and a firefighter were hospitalized after the incident. (Image: Hamden Fire Department)

In another of many heavy blows recently delivered to the “green” and “renewable” energy markets, after an all-electric bus caught fire and burned to ashes, the State of Connecticut, which manages the fleet, pulled the entire lineup, replacing them with diesel engines.

Reported by New Haven Register on July 26, an all-electric bus caught fire in a parking lot in Hamden on the morning of July 23. 

Pictures released by the Hamden Fire Department show the bus completely engulfed in violent flames. The calamity resulted in two transit workers and a firefighter being sent to the hospital, the article stated.


An official for the Department told the outlet, “Lithium ion battery fires are difficult to extinguish due to the thermal chemical process that produces great heat and continually reignites.”

The bus had only been in service since January, and fortunately, was not carrying passengers at the time of the incident.

Josh Rickman, a spokesperson for CTransit, told the Register, “This is CTtransit’s first fire incident with a battery electric bus,” before adding that the fleet had been pulled as a safety precaution.

“We have deployed diesel buses to make sure people get to where they need to be,” Rickman added.

The fire came only a day after state officials descended on New Haven to promote the Clean Air Act, which was approved by the State Assembly in April, requiring the Connecticut Department of Transport to transition hundreds of buses away from diesel to electric models, CTInsider reported on July 22.

DoT Commissioner Joe Giulietti celebrated his 70th birthday that day, posing for a photo opportunity with the electric busses.

“Parked behind me is two of the battery electric buses and one of the battery electric school buses,” he said. 

And added, “It’s so nice to hear a bus that’s behind you that’s not making noise or emitting any propane or diesel fumes. They’re quieter, they emit no emissions and they last longer.”

Guilietti said as many as 800 buses were to set to be replaced with the electric models.

The article added that the law required not only public transit buses to transition to electric, but also school buses.

Although the Hamden Fire Department’s Twitter account appears to regularly post photographs and updates from fires it had attended to, it failed to notify the public on the electric bus incineration.

A spokesperson for the DoT, Josh Morgan, told the Register that there are currently only twelve electric buses in service in the state, with 50 more “planned to be ordered.”

Earlier in the month, during Europe’s record-setting heat dome anomaly-caused high temperatures, Germany reported experiencing problems with its fleet of solar panels because the technology generates less power for each degree Celsius higher the temperature runs.

The German power grid was already in crisis as a result of wind turbines not operating during the windless, high temperatures in addition to a self-wrought natural gas crisis connected to the country’s sanctions against the Russian Federation over the war in Ukraine.

In June, researchers from the University of South Australia sounded the alarm that by 2050, as much as 40 million tonnes of wind turbine blades were set to hit landfills after reaching the end of their manufactured lifespan.

Professor Peter Majewski said in a Press Release, “As it is so expensive to recycle them, and the recovered materials are worth so little, it is not realistic to expect a market-based recycling solution to emerge, so policymakers need to step in now and plan what we’re going to do with all these blades that will come offline in the next few years.”

The blades, which are the size of airplane wings, are often made of composite fiber materials where plastics are combined with glues and only have a 10 to 20 year maximum longevity.

Only $4 worth of material can be extracted from a solar panel through recycling, which requires specialized equipment, trained staff, and a unique furnace, The Los Angeles Times reported in a July 14 article on the crisis California is facing with millions of government-subsidized solar panels set to soon occupy its landfills.