Location: Athens-Clarke County, GA
Fleet Type: County Government Operations

 

Narrative

Of the 159 Counties in the state, Athens-Clarke County is the smallest County in Georgia. The County has recently made great strides in the electrification transition, which is particularly notable considering the small size of the County. The County currently has deployed four light-duty electric vehicles (Ford Mach-E) and one plug-in hybrid (Prius Prime). Three Ford E-transits will be deployed in August 2023, and orders have already been placed for an additional E-transit and six Ford F150 Lightnings to be deployed within the next six months. The County is also recommending the purchase of an additional 35 EVs over the next two years through the TSPLOST (Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) program. 

The Mach-Es have been deployed to the County’s public safety departments for administrative purposes. The E-transits are being dedicated to the County’s mail route, facilities maintenance staff (HVAC, Locksmith), and one crime scene investigation vehicle. The Lightnings are being deployed to public works and landscaping divisions for fieldwork. In the upcoming fleet planning for this fiscal year, Athens-Clarke proposes to purchase an additional five Mach-Es and three Lightnings. Overall, there is an ability to use EVs for a wide variety of public sector work including tax assessment, investigations, infrastructure maintenance, and other administrative purposes.

Outputs & Outcomes

Outputs: The County has taken various measures for a successful fleet implementation as it expands. For example, it set up fleet maintenance fees to be lower for EVs compared to the equivalent gas-engine vehicle. The County is also able to supplement the purchases significantly with SPLOST and TSPLOST funding dedicated to renewable energy. This eliminates any cost concerns customer departments may have, and in some cases offers customers an EV at no charge for their operation. The County has a public mandate for this change that is strongly supported by the County Manager. On the Clean Cities side, Clean Cities Georgia is hosted at Southface Insititue, which has done a great amount of municipal planning work on energy efficiency and sustainability over the years. One of the outputs of this work was connecting Athens-Clarke with Clean Cities Georgia to continue this important work.

Outcomes: Because of the efforts taken, the County now has four electric vehicles and one plug-in hybrid vehicle. Additional vehicle transitions will continue to take place until the fleet is fully transitioned to electric and other alternative fuel vehicles.

Best Practices & Lessons Learned

  1. For smaller counties, second-generation EVs are especially well suited for operations. They are cheaper and don’t require the same range requirements as would be necessary for larger counties.
  2. Create additional barriers for non-EV implementation. If someone has to go through a formal process of explaining why an EV would not be suitable for their work, they are less likely to push back against the transition.

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Athens-Clarke County Fleet Story

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