Location: Sun Prairie, WI

Fleet Type: Municipal



Sun Prairie is a vibrant, thriving community located in northeastern Dane county, just east of the City of Madison. The City of Sun Prairie has experienced strong population growth since its incorporation from a village to a city in 1958, undergoing a transformation from a relatively small community of less than 4,000 to an estimated 37,000 today. The city is well situated regionally, with excellent access to major transportation routes and facilities. Sun Prairie benefits from its proximity to the City of Madison and the University of Wisconsin, which provide many amenities, events, and attractions for both residents of and visitors to the Sun Prairie area. Sun Prairie has become known in the region for its high quality of life, its excellent parks and recreation programs, historic downtown, its exceptional public school system, and progressive approach to the development and redevelopment of the community. Sun Prairie offers a small city life within a thriving metropolitan area. The city continues to be one of the region’s most successful employment centers with growing manufacturing, technology and entrepreneurial sectors.

Recently the City of Sun Prairie took a step toward 100% clean renewable electricity for city operations when it adopted a resolution requiring all city operations to run on 100% clean renewable electricity by 2025. In 2009, the City approved a resolution establishing the City as an Energy Independent Community with a goal of generating 25% of electricity and transportation fuels from renewable sources by 2025. The city reached the Energy Independent Community goal early in 2021 and, in response to this, established the more aggressive goal of achieving 100% renewable electricity for city operations by 2025. The city has seen significant progress through analysis of its electricity consumption. All City operations report prioritized energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. The City has worked with Sun Prairie Utilities and WPPI Energy, to establish a total electricity boundary for cost and impact considerations in addition to an annual process to account for changes in total annual electricity consumption. With the resources and partnerships available to the City with Sun Prairie Utilities and WPPI Energy, the path to 100% clean, renewable electricity for City operations is straightforward relative to other clean energy goals. The resolution adopted by the council requires that “city staff, Sun Prairie Utilities and WPPI Energy, the Sustainability Committee, and the community will work collectively and collaboratively on this goal, committing to the necessary investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and renewable energy credits to achieve this target.”

Outputs and Outcomes

Sun Prairie is a member of the Wisconsin Clean Cities Coalition.  WCC has collaborated with the city on various education and outreach webinars and opportunities.  Sun Prairie hosted its first ever community event focused on sustainability initiatives and projects, the Sun Prairie Sustainability Roundtable. Lorrie Lisek, Executive Director of Wisconsin Clean Cities, was asked to present on Transportation Planning and WCC projects, programs, and opportunities. The event was attended by community members, City staff, and government officials. WCC will continue to collaborate with the City of Sun Prairie as they address their decarbonization goals related to the transportation sector.

The City of Sun Prairie deployed a Ford E-transit cargo van in May of 2023, which serves as the City’s building maintenance vehicle. The mileage on the van as of March 31, 2024 was 2,195 miles. Based on the vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and the vehicle’s average efficiency of 61 MPGe, comparative cost, fuel, and emissions metrics could be calculated for this reporting period. Compared to the gasoline-powered maintenance vehicle that the City had originally budgeted for, the use of the E-transit cargo van over the past ten months (May 2023 – March 2024) has saved the City $226.56 in fuel costs, avoided the need for 100 gallons of gasoline, and has prevented the release of approximately 850 lbs of CO2 equivalents into the atmosphere.

Sun Prairie also has a Chevy Bolt dedicated to their Public Works Department and 2 PHEV’s for building inspection and code enforcement, and a Ford Lightning at the Wastewater Treatment Facility. The City is identifying all options to use electric vehicles and mandating an overall impact on fleet vehicles across all departments.  Sun Prairie is seeking to initiate electric vehicle protocol focusing on the best use case. The fleet is fluid in its movement of application. Sun Prairie has two level 2 charging stations at City Hall. They are being strategic in their approach to implement EV’s.  Sun Prairie is considering upfront costs, resale value, and return on investment.  Sun Prairie will be constructing a new Public Works Facility that will also provide fueling capabilities. They will continue to evaluate fleet needs and conduct studies to understand comparisons to hybrid vehicles.  

Sun Prairie is submitting an application to the current round of the Energy Innovation Grant Program. They are proposing to purchase two EVs for the police fleet, installing level 2 EV charging infrastructure at the Westside Community Services Building, which will serve both fleet and public charging needs, and incorporate an idle-mitigation system into one of their fire engines. Sun Prairie is building resiliency into this project by installing backup charging infrastructure that will remain fully operational during grid outages so the police fleet can be ready for service at all times. The City seeks to replace these vehicles by the end of 2024. In order to strengthen the grant and create more awareness and support, Sun Prairie is asking for communities, nonprofits, and utilities to collaborate and support the project. The City plans to purchase additional clean fuel vehicles in 2024, including a fully electric engineering truck and fire department outreach vehicle, as well as a PHEV for the administration department.

Best Practices & Lessons Learned

  • Availability and manufacturers buy-in is a challenge, as demand is not there yet.
  • The next five years will be very telling based on fleet adoption rates.
  • Education for elected officials and administration staff is vital to the success of the project.
  • Including service technicians in the evaluation process is important to not only receive their expertise in vehicle selection as related to use cases, but to also gain their “buy-in” for the project.
  • Ensuring that any fleet software upgrades will be compatible with selected vehicle purchases.
  • Collaboration with the community, elected officials, and staff is imperative from the beginning process.

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The City of Sun Prairie Fleet Story

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