Location: Cobb County, GA
Fleet Type: County Government Operations

 

Narrative

For over two decades, Cobb County Fleet Management has been at the forefront of sustainable transportation in Georgia. Their commitment to reducing their carbon footprint and saving taxpayers’ money has led them to explore and adopt various alternative fuel options.

In 2000, Cobb County Fleet Management began its journey towards sustainability by partnering with Atlanta Gas Light (AGL) to develop CNG infrastructure and adding 40 fully dedicated CNG cars and trucks to their fleet. This was the first step towards lowering their overall carbon footprint and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2007, they integrated Ultra-low sulfur diesel and began investigating other greener options. After extensive research, they determined that a soy-based bioproduct with a BQ-9000 certification was the best fit for their fleet vehicles. So, they adopted biodiesel as their fuel of choice. Biodiesel made with soy produced 78% less CO2 emissions than conventional diesel and had no offensive odor when burned.

From 2009-2014, Fleet focused on purchasing flex-fueled vehicles and searching for adequate fueling infrastructure. They purchased over 80 flex-fueled vehicles that ran on E85 but found that the fuel was significantly more expensive and in limited supply. Despite this setback, Fleet continued to explore greener technologies. They utilized a Georgia State contract to purchase their first 4 hybrid vehicles.

From 2008-2014, Fleet Management continued to investigate more fuel cost-saving measures utilizing renewable fuels to lower CO2 emissions and help with County sustainability. They participated in a grant through the Department of Energy facilitated by Virginia Clean Cities for the implementation of propane vehicle conversions and the erection of propane fueling infrastructure. The implementation of the program focused on vehicles that consumed the largest amount of fuel and had a large amount of idle time. They concluded that the police department would be a prime candidate for these conversions. They converted 44 police cars to run on propane over two years and experienced fuel cost savings as well as lower emissions.

In 2015, with significant improvements in conversion kits for vehicles to run on alternative fuels, Fleet took another step in revisiting the use of propane as an alternative fuel. They purchased sixteen bi-fueled propane trucks that run on gas and propane for a total of 650 miles on one fill-up and installed one new propane fueling station.

In 2014-2015, with Atlanta being one of the top-selling electric vehicle markets in the country, Cobb Couny’s Fleet applied for and received a grant sponsored by the Department of Energy to deploy electric charging stations for public use. The grant funded the deployment of three Level II dual hose charging stations. They also leased their first 16 Nissan Leafs and purchased two zero-emission motorcycles and four more hybrids.

They continued to build their infrastructure and installed eighteen more level II charging stations in strategic locations around Cobb County.

 

By 2017, they had 29 Nissan Leafs, 4 Zero Cycles, 45 charging stations, and 25 Hybrid vehicles. They started installing GeoTabs in vehicles to gather telematics data, monitor driver behaviors, and reduce idle times. In 2018, they added more charging stations and hybrid vehicles. By 2019, their EV fleet grew to 30, and they continued to add hybrid vehicles to their fleet. By 2020, they had over 40 Hybrid vehicles and 42 EVs in their fleet. They installed Derive idle reduction software in some of their ICE-powered police vehicles.

 In 2021, they partnered with Ingevity to add a renewable adsorbed natural gas filling station and an ANG Ford F250, the station will supply renewable natural gas to ANG bi-fuel vehicles outfitted with storage cylinders, appliances will slow-fill natural gas to a targeted 900 psi, refilling the ANG cylinders within several hours, ANG is one of the safest and cleanest fuels available, it emits 20% less pollution than other fossil fuel sources. All this is in addition to continuing to grow their Hybrid and EV numbers. In 2022, they started their solar project with Hannah Solar, which was completed in 2023. It provides power for their fuel island, EV chargers, and data room at Fleet and has a battery backup in case of power loss. They also added another ANG van to the fleet, along with more EVs.

Currently, the county’s fleet consists of just over 2700 units, including 64 EVs, 55 charging stations with 78 charging ports, 140 Hybrids, and 40 other alternative fuel vehicles. These numbers will continue to grow as traditionally powered vehicles and equipment are replaced. Cobb County Fleet Management will continue to research, test, and explore alternative fuel options and share what they learn with their peers. Their dedication to sustainability is an inspiration to other organizations, and they are a true leader in sustainable transportation.

Outputs & Outcomes

Outputs: Clean Cities has supported Cobb County with its electrification initiatives through our close relationship with Cobb County Fleet Services Director and Clean Cities Georgia Board Member, Al Curtis, as well as other members of the Fleet Management Department. Clean Cities Georgia hosted an Alternative Fuel Vehicle Safety Training course for first responders at Cobb County’s Fleet Management facility, with participation from first responders in Cobb County and surrounding counties and municipalities.

Outcomes: Through continued collaboration between Cobb County and Clean Cities Georgia, Cobb continues to advance towards a cleaner, greener fleet.

Best Practices & Lessons Learned

  1. Allotting sufficient time for long-term planning is necessary to ensure all pieces of the puzzle can be completed. This is due both to the many moving parts of the project and also to ease the transition in terms of changing people’s minds about EVs and their benefits.
  2. The excuse of “this is how we’ve always done it” is no longer a feasible business model. Cobb County notes that while previously convincing someone to switch from a gas-guzzling car to a hybrid or EV was almost impossible, as people are now witnessing the long-term benefits of these vehicles, they are more amenable to making the switch.
  3. Technology is constantly progressing, which means that businesses and governments will also need to constantly evolve along with it.

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Cobb County Fleet Story

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