A dozen Routt County vehicles could be transitioned to electric | SteamboatToday.com

A dozen Routt County vehicles could be transitioned to electric

Much of the county’s fleet is for the Sheriff’s Office and Road and Bridge Department.

Routt County estimates that it could transition just 12 of its 94 fleet vehicles into an electric vehicle at this time, and none of those are scheduled for replacement yet.

County public works director Mike Mordi said the two largest users of the county’s fleet are the Routt County Sheriff’s Office and the Road and Bridge Department.

The sheriff’s office has a few different vehicle types of varying age, all of them either a truck or SUV. Commissioners approved the purchase five Chevrolet Tahoes for the sheriff’s office on Tuesday, March 29.

Road and Bridge has three-quarter-ton pickup trucks that Mordi said the department drives, on average, about 13,000 miles a year. The 12 vehicles that could be upgraded get less use, and, in some cases, are already hybrids.

“So that’s what we could cover right now,” said Commissioner Beth Melton. “It obviously makes sense to assume that, in the future, more vehicles would be electric.”

Commissioners didn’t take any action Tuesday, but discussed electrifying the county’s fleet while reviewing actions the county is taking as part of the Climate Action Plan.

Environmental Health director Scott Cowman said before transitioning vehicles, the county may be able to simply reduce the size of the fleet. He questioned whether county needs three vehicles between his department and planning going forward.

“Would we be better with a model that we have five vehicles that anyone could check out?” Cowman asked, offering an idea.

Each of the county’s vehicles has a replacement schedule, typically when one reaches 110,000 miles. The county would need to build charging infrastructure first, but Cowman said maybe they should consider replacing these with electric vehicles early, before they reach that mileage.

Routt County commissioner Tim Corrigan said the technology with electric vehicles is getting better, and he felt there was potential for more than 12.

“They have road graders that are electric now,” Corrigan said.

Canadian equipment company MEDATech converted a motor grader into electric in 2018.

Mordi said he would love his next county vehicle to be a Ford Lightning, an all-electric F-150, but that would also be a smaller truck than Road and Bridge currently uses.

“I sometimes question the need for every one of them to be a three-quarter ton,” Corrigan said.

Cowman said he has had similar conversations about the Building Department, thinking they could be driving around the county for inspections in a vehicle that gets better mileage than a truck. Melton joked that contractors could laugh at inspectors if they weren’t in a truck; a point Cowman said has come up in discussions.

When it comes to the Sheriff’s Office, some agencies across the country have made strides to electrify their fleet. The Aspen Police Department bought five all-electric Teslas last fall, a move that was done with climate change in mind, according to the Aspen Times.

Each one cost $52,000, with another $10,000 to outfit. Routt County budgeted $55,000 to replace each of the five sheriff’s office vehicles in 2022.

Cowman suggested looking into some sort of pilot program, allowing the sheriff’s office to test out an electric vehicle and see how it would work.

“That’s where we’re going to get the most bang for our buck, because those guys are putting up a lot of miles,” Cowman said.

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