The group is pushing cities to use electric vehicles

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The Arizona Public Interest Research Group’s Education Foundation continues its efforts to expand the use of electric vehicles throughout the state. It is currently targeting Arizona’s municipal fleet. (Photo courtesy of Arizona Public Interest Research Group)

The Arizona Public Interest Research Group Educational Foundation continues its advocacy efforts to expand the use of electric vehicles throughout the state.

It is currently targeting Arizona’s municipal fleet. A recent press release claimed that Arizona’s 10 largest municipalities could save a combined $80 million by replacing cars and trucks with electric vehicles over the next 10 years.

Electric vehicles save users money over time, in part because of rising gasoline prices. Now, with federal legislation such as the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, electric vehicles are now being encouraged.

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Diane Brown

On Oct. 27, Diane Brown, executive director of the Arizona Education Foundation PIRG, and Tony Dutzik, senior policy analyst at the Frontier Group, released a report on the electrification of Arizona’s municipal fleets. In their view, this transition could potentially save taxpayers money.

“Studies have documented the financial benefits of owning an electric vehicle,” Brown said. “The report sought to document the financial savings to taxpayers if our state’s 10 largest municipalities converted their fleets to electric within the next decade.

“Over the past few years, Arizona has seen not only a surge in electric vehicle purchases, but also the creation of new jobs in our state thanks to transportation, electrification, and greater policies at the local, state, and federal levels that will help accelerate the industry of electric vehicle owners and operators. said Brown.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, there are about 60,000 state vehicles in Arizona. About 48,000 of them are owned by state and local governments. Arizona PIRG surveyed Chandler, Gilbert, Goodyear, Mesa, Peoria, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Surprise, Tempe and Tucson. Together, these municipalities own more than 10,000 vehicles.

Arizona’s PIRG advises municipalities to start electrifying passenger cars. Light duty vehicles are generally smaller passenger vehicles weighing up to 8,500 pounds. These can include vans, pickups and cars. Phoenix and Tucson, for example, have begun creating road maps for the wider use of electric vehicles.

About 6,100 vehicles inspected by PIRG were identified as light. However, there are only 36 electric cars. Ducyk said municipalities in Arizona are beginning to experiment with electric vehicles.

“Arizona cities and towns must commit to electrifying their fleets, develop detailed transition plans, and work with other municipalities, utilities and state government to minimize the costs and maximize the benefits of electrification,” Brown said in the report.

Duczik said in the report that electrifying municipal fleets requires commitment, but cities can reap long-term savings for their residents.

The report recommended that Arizona leaders take several steps to expand the use of electric vehicles in Arizona. They recommended developing a plan to phase out gasoline vehicles. They also recommended that municipalities develop a plan for electrification of vehicles in collaboration with other municipalities and state governments.

In addition, they urged municipalities to take advantage of the benefits of the federal government. President Joe Biden included incentives for the transition to electric vehicles in the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Thanks to the IRA, cities and towns will receive a tax break for the purchase of a clean vehicle until 2033. Arizona PIRG estimates that Arizona’s 10 largest municipalities spend $110 million a year to purchase, maintain and fuel their vehicles. Duczik called the IRA a “game changer” when it comes to electric vehicle adoption.

“Federal legislation also calls for significant investment in Arizona and across the country for electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The commitment of local, state and federal elected officials in Arizona and beyond means our state and country are on the path to electrifying transportation,” Brown said.

Although electric cars were considered more expensive in previous years, with the increase in gasoline prices and the decrease in the cost of electric cars, the prices are starting to break even.

“Gas prices are increasing more and more, and electric car prices are decreasing. … Policymakers are beginning to understand the financial benefits of the transition to electric vehicles for taxpayers,” Brown said. “However, there is still a misconception that electric vehicles are significantly more expensive to buy because of federal legislation. The cost of electric cars in some cases is on the same level as gasoline and diesel cars. But the cost savings for electric vehicles due to fuel use in maintenance and expansion costs are much smaller.”

However, many are still skeptical about the transition to electric cars. On the one hand, electric car users save money over time. On the other hand, the upfront costs may scare some drivers away from making the switch.

Another problem has to do with how the materials for electric cars are sourced. Electric vehicle batteries require the mining of lithium, copper and nickel. Because of this, there are concerns that electric cars may not be as sustainable as originally thought.

With these challenges in mind, EV advocates are urging people to look at the bigger picture. Although electric cars are initially more expensive, their operation becomes cheaper over time.

“Historically, until recently, electric cars were more expensive to buy, but cheaper to fuel and maintain. They are cheaper fuel because they are more energy efficient,” Dutsyk said. “Now, when inflation-reducing laws kick in next year, cities and towns will be able to buy electric cars for almost the same price as gasoline or diesel cars, but they’ll still get those benefits over time. reduce maintenance costs and reduce fuel costs.”

And although the collection of materials is not exactly environmentally friendly, they produce less greenhouse gases than cars with a gasoline engine.

“Every vehicle has an impact on the environment, and electric vehicles are no exception,” Dutsyk said. “Evaluations of electric cars as a climate change tool, as you know, generally show that they are much cleaner. They are much cleaner than air. And as Arizona’s electric grid gets cleaner over time, those benefits will only increase.”

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