Routt County could add two EVs and an e-bike to its fleet in 2023

Routt County could add two EVs and an e-bike next year, the first steps in a long process toward fleet electrification. The town of Steamboat Springs purchased its first all-electric vehicle this summer.
Town of Steamboat Springs/Courtesy Photo

Routt County plans to purchase two electric vehicles and an electric bicycle next year in an effort to reduce the carbon footprint of the county’s fleet.

The Routt County Assessor’s Office and Highways and Bridges Department would use the two vehicles to replace a 2009 SUV and a 2013 truck that have reached the end of their county service. The e-bike would be used by the building department for inspections and meetings in Steamboat Springs.

If the commissioners approve the purchases, it would be an important step in what is expected to be a long transition to electrification.

“The county is really looking at what we can do with electrification,” County Executive Jay Harrington said. “But it’s going to take time to get there.”

Steamboat Springs added its first electric vehicle this summer, after adding charging stations to the rodeo grounds parking lot.

Before the county can start using electric vehicles, it must also add charging stations, and two more are planned for the parking lot of the county’s new Health and Human Services building.

Two more Chargers are planned for the Road and Bridge Steamboat store, where most of the fleet is kept, assuming grant funding through the Colorado Energy Office’s Charge Ahead program arrives next year.

But the biggest obstacle to electrification could be the technology currently available, or lack thereof.

While the Aspen Police Department purchased five Teslas last fall to test them as patrol vehicles, Harrington said the electric vehicles still lacked the range required for a sheriff’s office vehicle. , because MPs can travel hundreds of miles in a single shift. There are also no adequate replacements for large vehicles such as diesel trucks or graders, which account for most of the county’s fuel consumption.

In April, Director of Public Works Mike Mordi estimated that only a dozen of the nearly 100 vehicles in the county’s fleet could be converted to electric with existing technology.

Even the Ford F150 Lightning that Mordi offered to buy for the Roads and Bridges Department next year is something that only recently became available in a fleet option, which lacks many of the high-end features that drive the price of some 2022 Lightnings to over $90,000.

Although that truck is included in Mordi’s 2023 budget request, Harrington said it likely won’t arrive next year.

“The problem with the pickup is, right now it’s an 18 to 24 month delay,” Harrington said.

For most county vehicles where there is no suitable electric replacement option available, the current combustion vehicle does not have enough miles to meet county replacement requirements. In fact, Mordi said the planning department drove a 1998 Ford Explorer because it “still runs great” and only has about 70,000 miles, which is below the replacement mark of 110,000 county miles.

Still, Mordi said he was committed to starting the electrification process, and he even included a few thousand in his budget request to give one of his mechanics additional training to work on electric vehicles. .

Building official Todd Carr said if possible, he wants the department to lead the county on electrification because its staff often travel to county outskirts for building inspections.

“It’s our goal in the construction department, as many miles as we do these vehicles, that in the future when the county is ready and ready to use electric vehicles, I would like to be the county chief “, Carr said. “We could auction off our current gas fleet and go all-electric whenever we are ready and prepared as a county.”

Harrington said full electrification of building department trucks was not imminent and e-biking would be a first step.

If purchased, it would be the county’s first e-bike purchase, and Carr said it required him to do a bit of research. He estimated the e-bike would cost $4,500, including safety gear like helmets and reflective vests, as well as custom bags to hold items the inspectors use daily like a computer and helmet.

The bike would be widely used within Steamboat, but Carr said there were instances where he could see it released around the county as well.

“I think it helps reduce carbon emissions; we would use less gasoline in our vehicles,” Carr said. “It’s not a huge expense item.”

Vehicle purchases were proposed to commissioners last month as each department made a budget presentation, but none have yet been approved. Commissioners are expected to adopt the final budget before the end of the year.


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