Easthampton paving way for electric vehicle switch

  • Designated charging station for electric vehicles at River Valley Market in Easthampton. The city has partnered with a Somerville electric vehicle technology company to help convert its fleet of municipal vehicles from gas to electric over the next decade. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 3/31/2023 2:13:55 PM
Modified: 3/31/2023 2:13:43 PM

EASTHAMPTON — The city has partnered with a Somerville electric vehicle technology company to help convert its fleet of municipal vehicles from gas to electric over the next decade, an initiative that will also involve helping employees navigate the transition to EV vehicles in their personal lives.

The transition is estimated to save Easthampton $360,000 on gas each year and will annually eliminate 600 metric tons of carbon dioxide, according to estimates from MoveEV, the company partnering with the city.

Mayor Nicole LaChapelle said that the public-private partnership will provide the technical support necessary for the city to achieve its sustainability goals and become a net-zero carbon-emitting community by 2040. The need to pursue sustainable and climate-conscious initiatives has been a focus for Easthampton since the City Council passed a resolution declaring a climate emergency in 2021.

“Electric car by electric car, the city will see a measurable material impact — environmental and financial — while leveraging government and private incentives,” LaChapelle said in a statement.

Through an analysis of Easthampton’s current fleet and its future needs, MoveEV’s artificial intelligence-driven technology is working with the city to develop a system that taps into state and federal funding incentives, Easthampton Conservation Agent Cassie Tragert said.

One takeaway from the company’s initial findings from last August was that the city has numerous SUVs and trucks, and that much of the fleet was very old. The average age of utility vehicles for the Department of Public Works was 28 years old.

“MoveEV is creating a dashboard of our fleet, which will help us make more strategic steps as we swap out our fleet to electric vehicles,” Tragert said.

The company also surveyed municipal employees’ travel usage outside of work, and is developing guidance, tailored to their needs, on what electric vehicle options are available and offering advice on how to secure state and federal incentives to help make the switch for personal use.

Results of MoveEV’s mobility report showed that 80% of city employees surveyed drive to work in their own vehicle. It also showed that employees drive an average of 12,857 miles per year.

According to the company’s estimates, if all 200 city employees switched to electric vehicles they could claim up to $3 million in federal and state incentives, and save $900,000 on gas annually. The switch could also mean the city would cut 4.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year per vehicle and remove 1,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.

In the future, the city intends to offer this service to all Easthampton residents.

David Lewis, founder and CEO of MoveEV, said Easthampton’s transition of its municipal fleet to electric vehicles will save the city and its taxpayers a tremendous amount of money.

“With the combination of MoveEV’s fleet and HR programs, we are confident that Easthampton will be a leader in helping Massachusetts reach its sustainability goals,” Lewis said in a statement.

Lewis will join LaChapelle in providing remarks at an Earth Day event for municipal employees on Thursday, April 20 at the Municipal Building located at 50 Payson Ave., from noon to 4 p.m.

The potential financial benefits and environmental impacts will be presented at the event via the MoveEV portal, which includes conversion planning and management software, the ability to calculate the value of switching to electric vehicles, and help in filling out state and federal incentive paperwork.

City employees who attend the event will have the opportunity to test-drive electric vehicles on site.

For more information about the city’s sustainability initiative, visit easthamptonma.gov/736/5398/MoveEV-Fleet-Electrification.

Emily Thurlow can be reached at ethurlow@gazettenet.com.
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