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POLICIES FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO ACCELERATE ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Electric vehicles can save money for our communities, promote public health, and protect our coasts by offsetting the need for new offshore drilling. Today, there are light, medium and heavy duty electric vehicle (EV) options for fleets and consumers. This toolkit is a catalog of local policies that can be enacted to facilitate the transition to electric vehicles in an effective, sustainable, and equitable way. These specific recommendations are based on effective EV policies from around the country with links to real-world examples. Rather than suggesting that cities must implement all of these policy recommendations, this toolkit is provided as a catalog of options for public officials to choose from while developing their community action plans.

 

*This toolkit is a living document that is updated regularly.

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Toolkit

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Trip Planning

Local governments can create transportation electrification plans to provide an overall framework and roadmap for community-wide transportation electrification. The plan can incorporate different elements from each of the categories below--and more--and will serve to guide actions in the months to come. 

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Local leaders can establish goals to electrify their fleets which save taxpayer dollars while reducing pollution and providing healthier outcomes for their citizens and the environment. The economic benefits of transitioning to electric fleets is an increasingly compelling reason for  many municipal leaders. Further savings may be achieved by leveraging funds available for fleet procurement from the Volkswagen diesel emissions settlement fund.

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Electrifying a municipal public transportation system is a no-regret solution that provides significant cost, health, and environmental benefits. According to the US Department of Transportation, every zero emission bus is able to eliminate 1,690 tons of CO2 over its lifespan. Electric buses reduce fuel and maintenance costs by $300,000-350,000 over the lifespan of each bus.

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Electric driving requires a paradigm shift in how we fuel our vehicles as fueling can take place at home, in the community, or along our highways. People’s perceived lack of visible charging stations is often cited as one of the top barriers contributing toward car buyers not purchasing electric vehicles. Thus, designing and planning effective charging systems will require addressing unique needs and removing barriers, both factors that local leaders are positioned to influence. Local governments can install and own EV charging equipment and adopt policies to encourage private investment in charging infrastructure. 

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Most American drivers are not aware of the cost, public health, and environmental benefits of driving electric. Educational opportunities can be offered to both staff and citizens to increase understanding of electric vehicles, charging, and the cost savings to taxpayers. Examples include having EV information on your website, hosting outreach activities such as “ride and drives” at which staff and citizens can ride or drive in electric vehicles, and outreach to local business fleet departments to offer information about both light and heavy-duty electric vehicle options.

There are many economic development benefits of electrifying transportation to the local economy. Those benefits can be maximized through strategic partnerships that highlight the value the city places on advanced technology solutions.  

Frontline communities typically experience disproportionately negative impacts from pollution caused by the transportation sector for several reasons including, but not limited to, proximity to major roadways. One report from the Union of Concerned Scientists found a 66% higher exposure of air pollution from vehicles among communities of color than for white communities. These emissions increase the risks of asthma, cancer, and other pollution-related illnesses. Frontline communities also experience stronger barriers to EV adoption due to higher upfront costs and lack of access to charging infrastructure. These burdens and barriers warrant a targeted approach to increasing electric transportation equity and access among members of frontline communities.

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Local utilities are essential partners - after all, they provide the electricity. Because of their role, engaging with your local utilities should be a first step. Local utilities can be partners in increasing EV adoption rates. They can offer EV friendly rates where it is cheaper to charge an EV at low-use times of the day and can install charging infrastructure through pilot programs. Additionally, municipalities can partner with local utilities to create education and outreach events and programs. Cities and counties that have municipal utilities have a unique opportunity to work closely with their electricity provider to develop pilot programs and provide strategic direction.