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Published on July 11th, 2014 | by Silvio Marcacci


Bay Area Governments Make America’s Biggest-Yet Electric Vehicle Buy

July 11th, 2014 by  

If San Francisco has developed a reputation as the perfect mix of clean tech and environmentalism, it’s because it’s true – the Bay Area just keeps getting greener and greener.

A coalition of Bay Area-public agencies has just made what they claim is the largest single governmental electric vehicle (EV) fleet purchase so far in America.

The total purchase of 90 EVs may not sound like a game-changer, but it’s actually one step in a longer journey toward sustainable transportation being led by the Bay Area Climate Collaborative (BACC), and fits into California’s overall zero-emissions movement.

San Francisco City CarShare Electric Vehicles Hybrids

Electric Vehicle Fleets Save Money, Cut Emissions

Ten governmental agencies will share the 90 EVs amongst themselves, and the fleet purchase will save more than $500,000 while avoiding two million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions over five years.

“By replacing older fleet vehicles with clean EVs, we’re greatly reducing pollution while saving our taxpayers money on fuel costs,” said Keith Carson, Alameda County Board of Supervisors President. “By combining some of these EVs with on-site solar power charging stations, we are one of the nation’s leaders in the use of green vehicles.”

This project will also support the City of Saint Paul’s broader sustainability mission and help the city achieve its goal of a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions by the year 2020.

The 90 EVs break down to 64 Ford Focus, 23 Nissan Leaf, and 3 Zenith vans, and they were purchased with $2.8 million in funding support from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to offset the incremental cost of the vehicles and their charging infrastructure, as well as local agency vehicle replacement funding.

Alameda County led the collaborative procurement effort, and will receive 26 of the vehicles, doubling the total number of EV or hybrid vehicles in its fleet to over 50. Sonoma County and the Sonoma County Water Agency will receive 27 of the vehicles, bringing the cumulative county alternative fuel fleet to more than 300 cars and trucks, more than 30% of total county vehicles.

The rest of the fleet purchase will be allocated among San Francisco (14), Concord (10), Santa Rosa (4), Oakland (3), San Jose (3), Fremont (2), and the Marin Municipal Water District (1).

Part Of An Overall Shift Toward Clean Transportation

But if being the single-largest government EV purchase in America wasn’t significant enough, the BACC’s purchase is part of an impressive move toward clean transportation in the Bay Area, and across California as a whole.

Just under one month ago, the BACC announced nearly $500,000 in funding for 80 EV charging stations across the region in the first phase of the Bay Area Charge Ahead Project, an effort to get 100,000 EVs on the road by 2020.

Of course, charging infrastructure is key to alleviating range anxiety and making it easier for EVs to hit the road, but it’s even more important in terms of saving governments and individual drivers money: Controlled EV charging can create at least a 50% reduction in charging costs, even more in areas of high renewable energy – which of course California has in abundance!

SEIA California Solar Capacity

Will It Help California Hit Its Big EV Target?

The Bay Area’s EV leadership is also going to be critical to the goals of an eight-state compact aiming to get 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on U.S. roads by 2025, of which California represents the lion’s share of new EVs.

Looking even more locally, the BACC initiative could have serious public health benefits. Seven California cities ranked among the most polluted in the American Lung Association’s 2013 “State of the Air” report, and because of the high percentage of renewables on the state’s grid, EVs cut emissions 75% compared to gas-powered vehicles.

So add it all up, and the Bay Area seems to have hit the trifecta: adding EVs to cut costs, improve overall air quality, and demonstrate a collaborative model that could be emulated by other regional governments.

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About the Author

Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate policy public relations company based in Oakland, CA.

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