General Assembly Eyeing Incentives for Government Vehicle Fleets to Switch to EVs

Dave Williams

Tuesday, October 24th, 2023

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With Georgia vying to become the nation’s e-mobility capital, the state may be about to embark on an initiative aimed at increasing the number of electric vehicles traveling Georgia streets and highways.

State Rep. Becky Evans, D-Atlanta, is planning to introduce legislation during the upcoming General Assembly session to incentivize state and local government agencies to convert the light-duty portions of their vehicle fleets to EVs.

Georgia taxpayers could save an estimated $312 million during the next decade by replacing 30,000 government fleet vehicles powered by gasoline and other motor fuels with electric vehicles, said Jennette Gayer, executive director of Environment Georgia.

Evans’ bill, which has yet to be drafted, would either require or encourage state and local agencies to switch to EVs whenever possible. The measure is aimed primarily at the cars agency employees use to get around the areas they serve rather than the heavier trucks that primarily use diesel fuel, she said.

The bill is modeled after a new law in Virginia requiring state agencies to consider a vehicle’s lifetime cost rather than just the sticker price when making purchases for their fleets.

“Electric vehicles are more expensive up front, but the maintenance costs are less … especially for people who drive 15 to 80 miles a day and bring back the car at night,” Evans said.

DeKalb County already is all-in with EVs. Robert Gordon, manager of DeKalb’s vehicle fleet, said the county currently owns 37 electric vehicles and has 85 more on order for delivery by the end of the year.

“You cannot beat these vehicles. They work fine,” he said. “They’re here to stay.”

Studies conducted in other states have concluded government fleets switching to EVs would save taxpayers millions of dollars, despite the upfront costs of buying electric vehicles.

In Pennsylvania, the savings would come to more than $360 million over the next 10 years, according to a report released by the PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center. Arizona taxpayers could save almost $283 million during the next decade, according to a study by the Public Interest Research Group.

Pennsylvania lawmakers have followed up on those results by passing a law requiring state agencies to replace 25% of their gasoline-powered passenger car fleets with EVs by 2025.

A new law in Arizona requires federal government vehicle fleets based in Arizona primarily in counties with populations of more than 1.2 million to be comprised of least 90% alternative fuel vehicles. The only county in the state that fits that description is Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix.

In Georgia, encouraging government vehicle fleets to transition to EVs dovetails with the state’s push to dominate the nation’s electric-vehicles market. The two largest economic development projects in state history – both announced during the last two years – involve building EV manufacturing plants.

Rivian is investing $5 billion in a facility near Covington that is expected to create 7,500 jobs. The company opened space this week at Atlanta’s Ponce City Market to showcase its products and expects to break ground on the manufacturing plant early next year.

“We’re excited to welcome visitors to our latest Rivian space in Atlanta,” said Rivian CEO and Founder RJ Scaringe. “This space will serve as a valuable hub to connect with the surrounding community.”

Hyundai Motor Group is investing $7.5 billion in an EV manufacturing plant and battery manufacturing facility west of Savannah that is expected to generate 8,500 jobs.

The state Department of Transportation is building new frontage roads and new interstate interchanges to accommodate the two massive plants.

Evans said she is seeking Republican lawmakers to cosponsor her bill, a key to passing it since the GOP controls both chambers in the General Assembly. She said legislation encouraging government vehicle fleets to switch to EVs has generated bipartisan support in other states.

“Virginia has passed this and so has Arizona, and both have Republican governors,” she said.