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Meals on Wheels introduces Lightning eMotors electric delivery van

Meals on Wheels is a nationwide organization that delivers nutritious, hot meals to shut-ins such as elderly or disabled people, who might otherwise not get a square meal (or a friendly visitor) every day. The importance of this service has been highlighted over the months of enforced isolation due to the pandemic.

Meals on Wheels People, a local affiliate in Portland, Oregon, has added a new vehicle to its fleet—an electric van with a refrigeration unit powered by solar energy. The van was funded by a grant from electric utility Portland General Electric (PGE), and was built by Lightning eMotors of Loveland, Colorado.

The PGE grant enabled Meals on Wheels People to purchase two EVs and install charging stations at its headquarters in Multnomah Village for the use of staff, volunteers and the public.

Lightning says this Lightning Electric Transit Van is the first electric van deployed in the US with a solar-powered refrigeration system. To build the specialty Class 3 vehicle, Lightning partnered with refrigeration manufacturer Volta Air and solar panel supplier Merlin Solar. The refrigeration unit, used to keep meals fresh for delivery, 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.

“Last-mile delivery of chilled food via electric vehicles is expected to be an emerging trend as more zero-emission vehicles are deployed,” said Lightning CTO Bill Kelley. “Our engineering team worked very closely with Volta Air to assure seamless integration of this innovative battery charging and refrigeration functionality.”

“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.”

Source: Portland General Electric

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