Location: Orange County, NC
Fleet Type: Municipal Fleet Vehicles

 

Narrative

Orange County, NC is part of the Research Triangle Region of North Carolina. The county is approximately 400 square miles and composed of Carrboro, 

Hillsborough, Town of Chapel Hill, five smaller townships, and a portion of the City of Mebane with a total population of approximately 150,000. North Carolina’s Governor issued Executive Order 246 which calls for an increase in registered zero-emission vehicles to at least 1,250,000 by 2030 and for 50% of sales of new vehicles in North Carolina to be zero-emission by 2030.

“The county fleet travels roughly 3 million miles per year on average. If all of those miles were electric, more than 600 metric tons of CO2 equivalent emissions would be avoided,” according to the Orange County 2019 State of the Environment report1. In 2023 three EVs were purchased for the County fleet, four were added by the end of the year, and 10 more EVs on order. The fleet consists of Chevy Bolts, cargo vans, and one SUV. The new additions will be a mix of sedans and vans.

The County focused on public charging before government fleet electrification. The County sought resources to identify funding and worked with NC Clean Energy Technology Center to apply for initial charging stations. The original three EVs relied on public charging infrastructure, and there was not a fleet plan for dedicated charging. Current planning has charging for new fleet vehicles that will not be open to the public. The new dedicated charging includes the purchase of the first EV ARC solar-powered charging station2 by an NC county government, and it is located at the motor pool. The EV ARC was purchased with assistance through a North Carolina grant made possible through the Clean Fuels Advanced Technology Project. The grant program required that funded electric vehicle charging infrastructure must not cause any ground or environmental disruption such as trenching or cutting of concrete. Additionally, Triangle Clean Cities was instrumental in the collaboration of Orange County, Hillsborough, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and Durham County for the compilation and submission of a Charging and Fuel Infrastructure grant application in 2023.  

The draft Community Action Plan (CAP) was presented to elected officials in November 2023. It identified that as of 2019 the County’s vehicle fleet (i.e., county maintenance, county law enforcement vehicles, etc.) represents 11% of total emissions, producing 2,106 MT CO2e (Million Tons of carbon dioxide equivalent). The CAP includes a target of transitioning the County’s fleet to all-electric by 2035 with an estimated cost of $669,819. The County plans to create a funding plan with estimated replacement dates to prevent relying on purchasing vehicles when funding is available, as they have done in the past.

The focus of transitioning to EVs for the County has been managed through the Office of Sustainability which works with Asset Management Services and Transportation Services, with telematics managed by the latter.

Quick Facts

  • Orange County’s total fleet is 187 vehicles. (Does not include Sheriff’s Department or school buses.)
  • First EVs: 2023 Chevy Bolts, Ford E-transit Vans and a Toyota.
  • Ford, Nissan, Toyota, and Honda EVs are on order as of December 2023.

Outputs & Outcomes

Outputs from the County include seeking outside funding and completing grant applications for EV charging stations. Additionally, the County extends beyond the 2019 State of the Environment recommendations to invest in charging infrastructure. The Draft CAP Transportation goals include “Increase EV Infrastructure and Adoption” to continue efforts to introduce more EVs into the county’s fleet with an EV-first purchasing policy for consideration of every fleet vehicle replacement. 

The County operates 23 Level 2 charging stations for EVs at 6 locations across the County and has embedded an EV Charging Station map on their website. Visitors can sort by charger type and filter for port connectors.

The outcomes of the County’s work include free EV charging for the community, including funding for initial charging infrastructure and the ability to continue expanding as a recipient of the Community Climate Action Grant Program awarded funds to install electric vehicle charger stations3 at ‘The Arts Center’ of Carrboro.

Best Practices & Lessons Learned

County Sustainability Programs Manager Amy Eckberg recommends looking for opportunities for collaboration.

  • Seek assistance. The County has been successful in securing funding and expertise through resources provided through the Triangle Clean Cities program and the NC Clean Energy Technology Center.
  • Consider opportunities for multi-jurisdictional combined funding applications that can be more competitive because of greater overall impact.
  • Build partnerships. When resources are scarce and projects must be prioritized, having strong partnerships allows overall progress to continue even when partners aren’t selected as current recipients – such as which communities will receive the next round of EV charging infrastructure.
  • Consider EV charging infrastructure access. options. Sharing charging with the public can be a challenge, and it takes time to develop policies if employees will be allowed to charge fleet vehicles at home.

Overall, Orange County says it is in the infancy of EV programming and has a lot of policies to create while continuing to move forward.

Resources:

  1.  Orange County, NC Commission for the Environment. (2019.) Orange County 2019 State of the Environment Report. Orange County, NC. http://www.orangecountync.gov/DocumentCenter/View/9074/State-of-the-Environment-2019?bidId=
  2. Nasdaq. Orange County Becomes the First North Carolina County to Purchase Envision EV ARC Solar Powered EV Charging Product. Nasdaq, 11 Feb. 2020. https://www.nasdaq.com/press-release/orange-county-becomes-the-first-north-carolina-county-to-purchase-envision-ev-arctm.
  3. Orange County. (ND) County Manager’s Office CCAGP Success Stories. Orange County, NC. https://www.orangecountync.gov/3109/CCAGP-Success-Stories#:~:text=racks%2C%20electric%20bike%2C-,and%20electric%20vehicle%20charger%20stations,-.%20The%20solar%20panels

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 Orange County Fleet Story

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