By Becca Stock
The popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) is on the rise. In Colorado, we saw the number of EVs on the road more than double between 2017 and 2019 (Colorado Energy Office, 2020). Sustainability professionals are looking at vehicle electrification, from both light duty and heavy-duty vehicles, as an important tool in reducing greenhouse gas and air pollution impacts while also reducing lifetime vehicle costs. For example, Lee’s Summit (Missouri) R-7 School District replaced their diesel delivery truck fleet with electric vehicles, lowering their fuel costs from $2.25 per gallon to $2.12 per gallon equivalent. The reduction in fuel costs is expected to save the District $169,000 over the life of the vehicles (Alternative Fuels Data Center, 2012). That being said, fleet electrification can be an intimidating and costly undertaking. Here are three early steps sustainability professionals can take to start preparing for electrification:
- Survey your Fleet: Work with your fleet manager to understand how each of your vehicles is being used. This includes typical miles driven per day, what types of tasks the vehicle is used for, where the vehicle is parked when not in use, age and mileage of the vehicle, and any chronic or anticipated maintenance concerns. This can be done manually through vehicle logs and other documentation or automatically with telematics data. Use this data, along with your fleet manager’s vehicle replacement schedule, to identify vehicles that are the best candidates for electrification.
- Review your Procurement Process: In most cases the upfront cost to purchase a vehicle comes from a procurement budget while ongoing vehicle costs (such as fuel and maintenance) come from an operations budget. This makes it difficult to use long-term fuel and maintenance cost savings to justify the higher upfront cost of EVs. Work with your procurement and budgeting offices to develop procurement guidelines that allow the total cost of ownership to be taken into account.
- Understand your Electrical Infrastructure: Work with your facilities department and utility representative to understand your existing electrical service and what, if any, upgrades might be required to install vehicle charging stations. If your utility offers special rates for EV charging, be sure to understand if a separate service is required to take advantage of these rates. This will help you to understand the full cost of EV charging infrastructure.
By completing these three steps, you can be prepared to make informed decisions and take advantage of grants and opportunities to electrify your fleet as they arise. For other strategies to promote electrification of your educational institution’s fleet, see the Xcel Energy’s Partners in Energy EV Toolkit.
About the Author – Becca has a strong background in energy efficiency measures for industrial customers though her experience at the Colorado State University Industrial Assessment Center. Also, she has been involved in researching and designing a commercial refrigeration heat recovery system that successfully brought industrial energy efficiency principles to a small commercial scale. At Brendle group, she employs her expertise to assess and quantify energy efficiency opportunities for commercial and institutional customers. She also applies energy efficiency principles on a larger scale for climate action planning, greenhouse gas accounting, and community energy planning, as well as analysis of renewable energy feasibility across these projects. Outside of Brendle Group, Becca puts her degree in Zoology to work volunteering at a local wildlife rehabilitation center.
Alternative Fuels Data Center. (2012, May 5). Retrieved August 20, 2020, from Lee’s Summit R-7 School District Delivers with Electric Trucks: https://afdc.energy.gov/case/1009
Colorado Energy Office. (2020, August 14). Colorado EV Plan 2020. Retrieved from Colorado Energy Office: https://energyoffice.colorado.gov/zero-emission-vehicles/colorado-ev-plan-2020