Planning in Progress
by Joseph Consoli, Administrator, State Fleet and Travel Management Services, Department of Budget and Management (DBM), with Kristen E. Humphrey, MLA, Local Assistance and Training Planner
As the State of Maryland moves toward a greener environmental footprint, the issue of reducing the use of carbon-based fuels to power the state’s fleet of approximately 9,000 vehicles has grown in importance.
To help chart our course, we (Department of Budget and Management (DBM) State Fleet and Management Services division) contacted colleagues from across the country who have been tasked with accomplishing the same goal. These conversations led to identifying a few common “choke points” in electric vehicle (EV) integration.
First, there was a frequent lack of a clearly defined plan. Colleagues stated that even having put together pieces of the puzzle, they had difficulty receiving cooperation from all the various agencies needed to effect the change. Second, was the problem of availability, particularly as a result of the limited types of EVs being produced domestically, or that were available for state-solicited contracts. Finally, was the issue of limited availability of state-owned charging stations and/or funding for them. Other smaller issues were identified; however, most could be mitigated by addressing these primary ones.
Using this information as a guide, I began working with Emily Soontornsaratool, Chief of the Department of General Services (DGS) Office of Sustainability, who is managing DGS’s charging station infrastructure. Together, we developed a strategic plan for EV integration into Maryland’s state fleet utilizing a “whole of government” approach, which we developed based on our review of the state’s fleet and additional research. The steps outlined by the strategic plan included:
- Identifying funding source(s) – The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and DGS received initial funding from the Maryland Environment Agency’s (MEA) Strategic Environment Investment Fund (SEIF).
- Inventorying state fleet – We sent an inquiry to all executive branch agencies of state government requesting each agency to identify existing vehicles within their fleets that could most readily be transitioned to EVs. Emphasis was placed on vehicle needs based on employees’ job functions and whether agencies had any existing charging station infrastructure in place. (Most agencies did not yet have the infrastructure needed.)
- Cross referencing vehicles and charging sites – Using inventories provided by the agencies, a master list was developed. The list identified the numbers, types, locations, vehicle usage, and other relevant information. After review by DGS, sites where charging station infrastructure could be installed quickly, or at least contemporaneous with the delivery of new EVs, were identified.
Once the appropriate sites and vehicles were approved for transition to EVs and EV infrastructure, new vehicles were ordered starting in FY20. To date, the state has ordered a total of 133 EVs, marking a 133% percent increase of EVs within the state fleet from FY19 to present. While many have not been delivered due to production delays, resulting from the shortage of microchips, DGS has continued to move forward, introducing new charging stations throughout the state in anticipation of the EVs arrival. Additionally, the state has 178 hybrid or plug-in hybrid vehicles in its fleet.
It is possible that, given enough funding, we could replace the entire eligible state fleet with EVs with relative ease. However, without the necessary charging station infrastructure, new EVs would simply be parked in lots throughout the state, depreciating in value and performance, and reducing the state workforce’s ability to serve our constituents.
For this reason, we have sought to address EV integration in a thoughtful way, learning from the experiences of others, and constructing a rational, phased plan for implementation. Although EV integration into the state’s vehicle fleet is still in its infancy, having an effective strategy in place, together with a collaborative interagency framework, will ensure the continued success of the program, reducing carbon emissions, and contributing to a greener footprint for Maryland’s state vehicle fleet going forward.
For more information about electric vehicle integration into Maryland’s state fleet, please contact Joseph Consoli, Administrator, State Fleet and Travel Management Services, Department of Budget and Management (DBM), at firstname.lastname@example.org.