Travis County outlines next steps for moving to electric vehicle fleet

Travis County
Pride flag-raising ceremony at Travis County building

FILE — The Travis County Government building June 29, 2021. (Frank Martinez/KXAN)

TRAVIS COUNTY (KXAN) — In response to growing concerns over greenhouse gas emissions and their consequential impacts on the environment, Travis County officials have begun the process of transitioning toward an electric vehicle fleet.

The Travis County Commissioners Court adopted a resolution in June to create a fleet electrification plan. Gas-powered vehicles continue to serve as a primary contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, officials said.

On Tuesday, commissioners and Travis County officials discussed an upcoming timeline for the fleet transfer as well as noting questions and concerns from county employees. Emily Ackland, Travis County’s environmental quality program manager, said support from county officials is integral to the success of an electric vehicle fleet.

More than 300 people responded to a county survey on electric vehicles, with the main questions including the following:

  • What are the benefits of driving an electric vehicle?
  • What are the challenges of having an electric vehicle in the county’s fleet?
  • How would employees use the electric vehicle assigned to their department?
  • Would employees consider an electric vehicle for their own personal vehicle?

Regarding concerns, Ackland said those centered around the driving range of electric vehicles, the availability of charging stations, the time it takes to charge an electric vehicle and any differences in general maintenance and repairs.

Charles Schoenfeld, the fleet director for Travis County, said officials are currently evaluating potential charging station locations on county-owned properties and seeking out grant funding to help offset the costs.

As for a timeline, he said the county will continue to analyze charging station locations through the spring. Come spring, he said officials will submit budget requests and provide an update to commissioners on proceedings.

Schoenfeld said approximately 300 county fleet vehicles have been identified that could be replaced in the next few years by electric-powered pickups, sedans, passenger vans and cargo vans.

Commissioner Brigid Shea commended the initiative to move toward an electric fleet, adding it’s critical for local entities to combat climate change alongside federal efforts.

“This is exactly what all local governments need to be doing,” she said, later adding: “The fleet vehicle piece of it will be a really important one.”

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