CFPUA launches pilot program to explore using electric cars in fleet

Updated: Dec. 11, 2019 at 1:40 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) has launched a pilot program to explore the use of electric cars in its fleet.

The utility company has been using a Kia Niro plug-in hybrid vehicle for about two months now.

“We wanted to explore the idea of how can we reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that come from our fleet so we started looking at what electric vehicles would look like coming into our organization and where they might fit in," CFPUA Director of Public and Environmental Policy Lindsey Hallock said during a presentation to the board Wednesday.

Hallock said this step aligns with CFPUA’s goals of reducing the impact on the environment.

“So there are kind of two sides of emissions when it comes to why you want to reduce them. The first is tail pipe emissions. We live here, we care about our natural resources here and reducing tail pipe emissions just helps improve local air quality and that’s huge when we’re driving so many vehicles. All of those emissions add up and we want to be a part of keeping our community safe and clean,” Hallock said.

The vehicle is being used by the water sampling division, which Hallock says is a good starting point for the program as they drive predictable routes each week. There are between 120 to 150 vehicles in CFPUA’s fleet.

“We have a lot of vehicles and they range in size. Some of them are the massive Vactor trucks and some are sedans. So we have a lot of variability in the fleet and that’s something we’re considering when we think about what it would look like to bring more electric vehicles into the fleet,” she said.

Hallock broke down the cost variations of using an electric car verse one that runs off gasoline during her presentation. She found the electric car is more expensive up front, but only ends up being about $600 more expensive over the lifetime of the vehicle.

“Tied to that $600 is about a 51 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. We found that to be a really positive finding for the vehicle and I think it really gave us a lot of good information for the vehicle moving forward and is this an effective way of reducing emissions? And I think when we look at these numbers it could be," Hallock said.

The pilot program and any future purchases of electric vehicles is not expected to increase rates.

“What we found with this car is we were able to use existing budget to purchase it and we’re coming up on a new budget season and as cars come out of their fleet we’ll make sure we stay around the same cost point so it won’t have an impact on rates,” Hallock said.

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