Report: Arizona communities could save taxpayers $80 million by going electric

The 10 biggest cities in our states could save millions of dollars by using electric vehicles. Some cities say the technology isn't ready for prime time.
Published: Oct. 28, 2022 at 12:12 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Taxpayers in Arizona could save tens of millions of dollars if municipalities replace gas-powered vehicles with electric vehicles, according to a new report. The Arizona Public Interest Research Group Education Fund studied ten of the largest cities and towns in Arizona, and determined those municipalities could save an estimated 80 million dollars over the lifetime of the vehicles. The group says the savings would be the result of several factors, including federal incentives for EVs, and lower operating and maintenance costs.

“Taxpayers should always have the biggest bang for their buck,” said Diane Brown, the executive director of the Arizona PIRG Education Fund. “In the case of electric vehicles, not only could the municipalities we surveyed save millions of dollars for their taxpayers, but the incentive also happens to coincide with better air quality, which impacts all Arizonans.”

Several Arizona municipalities are already adopting electric vehicles in their fleets. For example, Tempe has 25 EVs in its fleet and is planning to purchase 22 more next year. In Mesa, the ultimate goal is to transition the entire light duty fleet of approximately 1,400 vehicles to electric. This year, the city is starting the process with 29 EVs to replace older, high mileage vehicles.

“The cost of running electric vehicles is far less than it is with running gas powered vehicles. The cost of the energy is much less, and then the maintenance of the vehicle itself is much less, so overall it just just makes sense,” said Laura Hyneman, the city’s deputy director of the environmental and sustainability department. “What we’re finding out is there are some up front costs with installing our electric charging infrastructure, but even building that into the model, it’s economically beneficial to have electric vehicles in our fleet.”

Other communities say the cost is a barrier. Chandler currently has eight electric vehicles in its fleet and nine hybrids will be online soon. But in a statement, Steven Turner, the assistant to the city manager said, “As of now, we believe that the technology just isn’t adequate to meet all of the City’s diverse fleet needs. And the cost to install electric vehicle chargers is prohibitive. However, we will continue exploring all options to discover the right balance that ensures fiscal responsibility and environmental sustainability in the best interest of our community.”