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Biodigester Hero

The Rapid Begins Using Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) From The City of Grand Rapids’ Biodigester

Partnership between The Rapid, the City of Grand Rapids, and DTE Energy will result in a green fuel source for local buses

As of April 13, 2023, The Rapid has begun receiving EPA-certified renewable natural gas (RNG) from the City of Grand Rapids’ biodigester. This marks a major milestone in a multi-year effort to create a partnership that upholds a shared commitment to sustainability.

“The partnership speaks to innovative ways that local governments can work with regional partners and support their sustainability goals while also reinforcing the City’s commitment to building a safe and healthy community,” said James Hurt, Grand Rapids’ managing director of Public Services.

The Rapid has been working to transition its bus fleet away from diesel fuel to lower-emission options since 2017, and the new partnership will create a renewable natural gas supply for Rapid buses that is produced by converting concentrated waste to fuel. This renewable fuel source captures methane from the decomposition process, converting it into usable vehicle fuel and redirecting the waste away from local landfills.

“This partnership is a win-win-win for The Rapid, the City of Grand Rapids, and the region,” said Deb Prato, CEO of The Rapid. “We’re fueling a cleaner fleet and significantly reducing our carbon footprint. This innovative partnership represents the creativity and collaboration that is necessary to develop strategies across multiple sectors to create better outcomes for the climate and the community.”

RNG fuel is considered carbon-negative, producing the lowest carbon intensity of any on-road vehicle fuel. The Rapid will be able to utilize this fuel immediately in the fleet without the need for massive infrastructure changes or investments.

“We continue to explore a pathway to a zero-emissions fleet, but the advantage of RNG is that we can put it to work in our buses right now. We don’t need to wait to start improving our environment and community,” said Steve Schipper, COO of The Rapid.

The Rapid’s fleet currently consists of 133 buses, 102 of which will have the capacity to run fully on RNG. Diesel buses will continue to be retired and replaced by RNG vehicles, in a continued effort to reach zero emissions by 2035.

Additional information on RNG from the Environmental Protection Agency can be found here, and more details on the City of Grand Rapids’ biodigester can be found here.

Full media release.