New report documents $80 million in taxpayer savings through municipal fleet electrification

By Arizona Public Interest Research Group | Rose Law Group Reporter

Ten of Arizona’s largest municipalities could save a combined total of $80 million by replacing retiring light-duty cars and trucks with electric vehicles (EVs) over the next decade, according to new research by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group. Each of the 10 municipalities surveyed – from the West to the East Valley and Phoenix and Tucson – would save money over the lifetime of light-duty vehicles by “going electric.”

The Arizona PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group’s report Electric Fleets for Arizona: Saving taxpayers money through municipal fleet electrification notes that EVs are increasingly affordable and less expensive to fuel and to maintain than gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. Additionally, automakers are increasingly committed to making a wider variety of electric vehicles – including pickup trucks, which are commonly used in municipal fleets. And recently adopted federal legislation – including the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) – provides new incentives for EVs and infrastructure, which could make fleet electrification even more attractive to municipalities.

Diane E. Brown, co-author of the report and executive director of the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, stated: “Electrifying a municipal fleet can yield significant taxpayer savings. To realize the monetary benefits of shifting to electric vehicles, Arizona cities and towns should commit to electrifying their fleets, develop detailed plans to guide the transition, and partner with other municipalities, as well as utilities and state government, to minimize the costs and maximize the benefits of electrification.”

Tony Dutzik, co-author of the report and senior policy analyst with the Frontier Group, said: “Electrifying a municipal fleet requires commitment, but the rewards are well worth the effort. With planning to identify the best opportunities for electrification and to provide the necessary charging infrastructure and workforce training to ensure the vehicles are well-used, cities and towns can reap long-lasting savings for their residents.”

The report recommends the following roadmap for Arizona municipalities:

  • Make bold commitments. Setting a goal of phasing out gasoline and diesel vehicles as electric versions of those vehicles become available can focus all departments of municipal government on the task of transitioning to EVs and create economies of scale in vehicle purchasing and charging.
  • Develop municipal electrification plans. A municipal plan can help identify the best near-term targets for electrification and ensure that EVs and charging infrastructure are deployed and used effectively.
  • Collaborate with other municipalities in Arizona and beyond, as well as state government, to share information and ideas, negotiate discounts for EVs and equipment, pursue opportunities for financial incentives, and advocate for additional incentives and support for fleet electrification.
  • Take full advantage of utility incentives. Arizona’s electric utilities often offer discounts on the installation of EV charging infrastructure and/or technical assistance to help fleet owners make the transition to EVs.
  • Take full advantage of incentives in recent federal legislation. Municipalities should work together to identify and pursue federal incentives that further reduce the cost of new vehicles and charging infrastructure, such as the commercial vehicle credit in the IRA and incentives and funding for charging infrastructure in the IIJA and IRA. 

Brown added: “With gasoline and diesel prices on the rise, new federal incentives and new EV models arriving seemingly every day, municipalities should begin electrifying their municipal fleets now to save taxpayers millions of dollars while continuing to serve the daily needs of their residents.”

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