Location: DeKalb County, GA Fleet Type: County Government Operations
DeKalb County Fleet Management has been a pioneer of electrification and alternative fuels in Georgia for the past 10+ years. Under the supervision of Fleet Manager Robert Gordon, DeKalb has converted 437 of their 3,600 vehicles to alternative fuels. Of those, 37 are electric. Because of DeKalb’s commitment to sustainable transportation, the County has successfully diverted 1.8 million gallons of diesel from being used for government fleet operations since 2012. Through Georgia Power’s “Make Ready” program, which removes financial barriers for businesses seeking to install electric vehicle charging stations, DeKalb has installed 72 Level 2 chargers across their facilities for use by government employees and the public.
DeKalb County has been able to continually procure new electric vehicles through its vehicle replacement fund, which is separate from the general funds used for other County needs. By securing this separate funding that does not need to go through the same length approval process as general funds, DeKalb can be guaranteed a certain number of new, cleaner vehicles each year, as older, more-polluting vehicles continue to be cycled out of the fleet.
As of 2023, once the current orders are fulfilled, the County plans to purchase an additional fifty electric trucks and twenty-eight electric vans. Currently, electric vehicles are used for various County departments including Administration, Parks and Recreation, and Sustainability, among others. Forty-six more electric vehicle chargers are also planned to be installed.
Fleet Manager Robert Gordon has personally put over 100,000 miles on electric vehicles since their inception at the County, and he continues to share his best practices with others looking to transition their own fleets. Earlier this year, he successfully drove an electric vehicle from Georgia to New York, where he spoke to other Fleet Managers from across the Country about fleet transitions.
Outputs & Outcomes
Outputs: Clean Cities Georgia assisted with obtaining grant funding in 2012 that led to the County having a renewable fuels facility to generate electricity from landfill waste and to minimize the County’s carbon footprint.
Outcomes: Since 2012, fleet management has reduced its diesel usage by 1.8 million gallons. Fleet management has also benefitted from understanding the environmental benefits of transitioning to alternative fuels, changing the internal culture of the establishment. Because of their longstanding use of alternative fuels like CNG, the County is now better positioned to be a leader in electrification as well.
Best Practices & Lessons Learned
Use the right fuel for the right application: While electric may not be currently feasible for all types of County transportation, there are plenty of applications where it works very well, and these are the applications for which DeKalb currently uses electric vehicles. As EV technology continues to evolve, these numbers will continue to grow.
Work with your utility to install chargers well in advance of when the chargers will need to be used. Although DeKalb is currently not at charging capacity, because they chose to work with Georgia Power’s Make Ready program, the County was able to procure 72 chargers to provide for all its needs as current and future EV orders are fulfilled, creating a seamless gap in operations.
Embrace the potential pushback from County employees not yet comfortable with driving an EV. Change is difficult, but if it is implemented as part of a County-wide program that is proven to be both good for the environment and financially responsible, eventually workers will come on board.