Location: Salt Lake City, UT Fleet Type: Municipal Fleet & Public EVSE
Salt Lake City (SLC) has been a visionary early adopter of electric vehicles (EVs), both within its own municipal fleet and in the form of public charging infrastructure and encouragement. SLC’s sustainable transportation history is intertwined with its partnership with Utah Clean Cities. For three decades, these entities have collaborated with the mayor’s office, forging a sustainable path amidst the challenges of the smoggy Wasatch Front. In 2018, the City created an Electrified Transportation Roadmap as a guide. In 2020, the Salt Lake City Council and the Mayor’s office issued a joint resolution establishing electrified transportation goals for Salt Lake City. The resolution lays out a phased approach to internal fleet replacement and establishes target dates for the purchase of electric vehicles, starting with sedans by 2023, SUVs by 2025, trucks by 2027, and an ongoing evaluation of medium and heavy duty EV options before any purchase. The resolution also establishes that the City will financially support the charging infrastructure necessary to support new fleet EVs. Beyond this, the resolution calls for the City to support the development of charging infrastructure and other programs and policies to accelerate the uptake and use of EVs in the community, prioritizing collaboration towards electrification of the Utah Transit Authority and other shared mobility services to ensure equitable access to clean transportation. Both the resolution and the roadmap help the City achieve milestones identified in its ambitious Climate Positive 2040 plan, which sets two interrelated goals of reaching 100% renewable community electricity by 2030 and reducing community greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.
Salt Lake City’s EV integration marks a pioneering step towards sustainable transportation. By overcoming challenges, improving user experiences, adopting policies, and investing in charging infrastructure, the city shapes a greener mobility landscape.
Outputs and Outcomes
Supported by a Department of Energy Vehicle Technologies grant in 2018, Salt Lake City has successfully deployed EVs for its parking enforcement fleet with collaboration from local utility Rocky Mountain Power, Utah Clean Cities, and other key stakeholders. As of 2022, the City’s fleet includes 61 electric vehicles which realized an estimated annual reduction of 8,812 gallons of gasoline and 499.7 tons of GHG emissions. With a total fleet size of 1,400 vehicles, the impacts of scaling EV deployment to the entire municipal fleet will be significant. A 2023 fleet electrification study is in progress to develop a solid deployment plan, ensuring that the operational needs of drivers and fleet managers are strategically addressed and aligned in pursuit of the city’s decarbonization goals. As part of the study, the City is also conducting a Emergency Response Preparedness and Resiliency assessment to identify opportunities for on-site electricity generation and storage solutions, to enhance the fleet’s resiliency and ensure that the City can continue to provide critical services in the event of power interruptions.
As for public EVSE support, Salt Lake City has installed twenty free public chargers to date with infrastructure in the works for seven more. An EV Readiness ordinance passed in 2023 dictates that a minimum of 20% of parking spots at multi-family housing must be EV-ready, in addition to a pre-existing requirement that one in twenty-five spaces have an electric charger. As of 2023, the city is conducting a Community Electrified Transportation Study to identify programs and policies needed to accelerate the equitable adoption of EVs in the community and assess future charging infrastructure needs.
Best Practices & Lessons Learned
Salt Lake City’s remarkable journey towards electrified transportation provides invaluable lessons and best practices for other municipalities and organizations pursuing similar transformations. A clear policy directive from the Mayor and City Council was important in getting stakeholders on board across city departments, demonstrating the significance of strong leadership support. The city’s progress underscores how clear policy directives from elected officials, coupled with endorsement from senior Directors lays the groundwork for a culture of change and innovation. Equally crucial is the power of investing in a trust building process. The Fleet Electrification Study stands behind this, ensuring that the proposed EV transitions have been well thought through and can still meet the operational needs of the fleet.
Tangible demonstrations play a vital role in easing apprehensions and accelerating acceptance. Salt Lake City’s strategic investment in accessible and free public EV charging stations serves as a visible testament to their commitment. This real-world application showcases the practicality of EVs and paves the way for broad and equitable adoption. The dual benefits of financial savings and environmental impact can serve as a powerful motivator for transition. By highlighting these advantages, municipalities can inspire individuals and organizations to embrace cleaner transportation alternatives.
Addressing common misconceptions is another lesson drawn from Salt Lake City’s experience. The city’s use of EVs under diverse and challenging weather conditions showcases their reliability, dispelling doubts about their performance. Lastly, agility in planning proved paramount for future-readiness. Salt Lake City’s strategic approach to infrastructure development, including adapting early adoption grants to meet evolving needs, reflects the importance of flexibility in an ever-changing landscape.