The City of Atlanta is home to approximately 500,000 people and is the hub in the center of the Atlanta Metropolitan Area of 6.1 million people (2021), making it the eighth largest city in the United States. The City of Atlanta also houses a portion of the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the busiest airport in the country. Due to the expansive reach of the metropolitan area, the number of travelers passing through, and the large number of daily commuters into the city, air quality has long been an issue for the city. According to the 2020 State of the Air report published by the American Lung Association, Atlanta is rated an “F” for ozone pollution, and there are often air quality alerts in the city. Therefore, sustainable transportation is a very important topic for both the City of Atlanta and its surrounding areas. In 2019, Atlanta officially published its City of Atlanta Historic Clean Energy Plan goals to transition to 100% clean energy by 2035.
As of 2023, Atlanta owns two heavy-duty electric vehicles, 34 light-duty electric vehicles, and 33 plug-in hybrids. One of these vehicles is used for official use by Atlanta’s mayor, Andrew Dickens, setting an example for other citizens of the city. Atlanta’s Purchasing Department has been a strong partner for adding electric vehicles to the city fleet, while also being cognizant of the end of life of existing vehicles and thereby using the entire fleet to its maximum potential.
Outputs & Outcomes
Outputs: The City of Atlanta is a longtime member of Clean Cities Georgia and has a sustainability representative on the coalition’s Board. Clean Cities Georgia assisted the City of Atlanta with various mapping tools, including maps of EV charger locations and current and future population density.
One of the activities that has proved particularly successful for the city is having an EV Working Group, which has made it easier to apply for awards and grants for EV charging.
Outcomes: Because of the dense nature of the city, charging infrastructure has been slow to implement, as charging solutions have needed to be implemented in more creative ways. With the help of Clean Cities Georgia, the City of Atlanta was able to build out a map of city chargers, which will be very useful when extending community EV charging through an equitable lens. Population projections from 2030-50 have assisted with the long-term planning side of things.
As the city builds out a Sustainability/Equity/Climate Plan for 2024, goals continue to evolve and expand regarding EV charging. Clean Cities Georgia continues to be involved in these general efforts as well as efforts surrounding equitable EV charging.
Best Practices & Lessons Learned
Proactive city planning and budgeting are key to ensuring electric vehicles can be added to the fleet when older vehicles reach their end of life. Although the total cost of ownership of an EV is low, the higher initial purchase price requires more creative financing mechanisms that must be implemented by the Purchasing Department.
It is of key importance to make sure there are enough chargers (that are working) to support the EV growth within the city’s fleet. If not all chargers are in commission, the already low number of chargers becomes even lower, creating more barriers to EV expansion. Regular maintenance and clear ownership of these chargers are important aspects to consider.
It is imperative to plan for future population growth and to identify where that population growth is expected to be most dense. While EV charger procurement can take an extended period of time for government entities, if the chargers were planned to exist only in areas where the population is currently dense, but does not account for areas where the population is expected to be dense, by the time all chargers are installed the city will already be behind the eight-ball in terms of charger to population ratio.