June 27, 2023 -- The City of Houston recently marked a milestone with the overall implementation of electric vehicles in its municipal fleet despite national supply chain issues and inflationary pressure.
The City currently has 333 hybrid electric vehicles and 88 battery electric vehicles, with an additional 67 battery electric pickups, 20 hybrid electric pickups, and 21 hybrid electric SUVs deliveries expected before the end of the calendar year. The City will also receive 27 battery-electric SUVs and 13 battery-electric pickups within a year. Each of these projects is currently funded, and grant funds are being pursued to augment these purchases with additional vehicles.
The Houston Climate Action Plan drives the EV purchase. This strategy aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve regional air quality, build climate resilience, meet the Paris Agreement goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, and lead the global energy transition. The Houston Climate Action Plan aims to convert all non-emergency, light-duty municipal vehicles to electric by 2030.
We are working with Evolve Houston - a public-private partnership I founded with CenterPoint, NRG, Shell, and the University of Houston, to help advance the adoption of EVs with a goal of 50% electric vehicle sales by 2030 – to map out the need for EV charging infrastructure at the regional level.
With regard to charging infrastructure, the City currently has 57 installed chargers. Two of these chargers are DC fast chargers, which provide an abbreviated charging time. City Council recently approved a contract award to Siemens for purchasing 144 level 2 battery chargers. The installation of an additional 15 chargers at the Houston Health Department's Stadium Dr. location is scheduled to begin in two weeks. Other installation projects are in various stages of permitting and design. Unfortunately, supply chain issues are negatively affecting the availability of electrical components necessary to complete charger installations.
Working with the Mayor's Office of Resilience and Sustainability, the City's Fleet Management Department is evaluating a potential mobile charging option that can provide a stop-gap solution until the availability of the needed components improves. FMD is also investigating opportunities for home-charging vehicles taken home by emergency response employees. The home charging option has the potential to reduce charger installation costs and improve City resiliency with the use of a distributed grid (city vehicles are not concentrated at City locations that are subject to power outages). The home charging concept has caught the attention of municipalities across the Country.
"With almost half of carbon emissions in Houston coming from the transportation sector and a majority of those emissions coming from single occupancy vehicles, electrification is an important part of our climate action plan," said Mayor Sylvester Turner. "I am pleased to see the ongoing progress and am confident we will meet our goals."
According to Evolve Houston, the City closed last year with 9% of new cars registered as EVs.
This means that in 2022, Houston's EV adoption rate was 2.5% over the US average, and we are continuing this momentum into 2023 by leveraging public-private partnerships like the Hertz Electrifies Houston initiative we announced in March, including plans by Hertz to bring over 2,100 rental EVs to Houston.
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