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Policy Toolkit
FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO ACCELERATE ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Electric vehicles save money by reducing operating costs, while improving public health, and addressing climate change by drastically reducing emissions. Today, there are light, medium and heavy duty electric vehicle (EV) options for fleets and consumers. 

The Electrify the South Toolkit curates best-practice local government EV policies from around the country with links to real-world examples. The Toolkit  provides a catalog of cost-effective, sustainable, and equitable policy options for public officials to choose from to support climate and transportation electrification action plans. The Toolkit is a living document that is updated biannually to keep pace with the rapidly expanding EV market.

Trip Planning

Transportation electrification plans provide a framework and roadmap for community-wide EV adoption. Effective plans incorporate different elements from each of the categories below--and more--and support long-term community engagement, fleet procurement, finance, and technology decision making.

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Local leaders can establish goals to electrify their fleets to 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. EVs provide an overall reduction in fuel costs and maintenance requirements so their total cost of ownership is frequently lower than traditional internal combustion vehicles.

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Zero-tailpipe electric buses provide safer public transportation by producing significantly fewer carbon emissions and reducing harmful air pollution in our communities. Electric buses have considerable savings maintenance and fuel costs, compared to combustion engine buses, even though their purchase price is higher. Additionally, the purchase price of electric buses is falling fast with advancements in battery technology. While electric transit and school buses have many similarities there are significant enough differences including how they are driven, price points and how they interact with the grid, that we are choosing to separate the two and address them individually. 

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Fueling EVs require a paradigm shift on how we view transportation, buildings and energy. It is a departure from the traditional combustion vehicle gas station model. Electricity access is ubiquitous and any electric outlet is a potential fueling station. However, modern long-range light, medium and heavy-duty EVs often require specific EV charging stations with hardware and software to meet changing needs. The perceived lack of charging stations is cited as one of the top barriers to purchase of electric vehicles.

Local governments can install and own EV charging equipment and adopt policies to encourage private investment in fleet, workplace, and public charging infrastructure.​ The following are key considerations for local governments that are looking to support electric vehicle charging infrastructure deployment.

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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 are often composed of people of color and of lower-income who traditionally have been overburdened with the negative impacts from and underrepresented in decisions about transportation. 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. 

 IX. State Actions

There are several actions that states can take to support and enable local government electric transportation goals. Local governments can lean into these policies by making electric transportation a priority policy and engage in advocacy.

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We have identified case studies from various US cities and linked them here.

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© 2021 Electrify the South is a program of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy that leverages research, advocacy, and outreach to accelerate the equitable transition to clean energy-powered electric transportation throughout the Southeast.