New electric vehicles will be used by the Atlanta Police Department to patrol the BeltLine, PATH and Parks and Recreation Department.
New electric vehicles will be used by the Atlanta Police Department to patrol the BeltLine, PATH and Parks and Recreation Department.

By Stephanie Stuckey Benfield

Drive. Charge. Repeat.

That’s the commuting routine for many metropolitan Atlanta drivers of electric vehicles. In fact, FleetCarma, an EV fleet management and analytics company, recently named our city one of the top 10 electric vehicle (EV) markets in the country. What makes Atlanta a leader in this space? Our extensive public charging network, business tax credits towards the purchase of charging stations, streamlined permitting for EV charging equipment installation and low electricity rates all contribute.

This success comes despite the decision by the Georgia state legislature to repeal a $5,000 tax credit towards the purchase of EVs. But while the state stalls, the City of Atlanta moves forward to become a national leader on EVs. Our initiatives include:

  • Adding 60 EVs and plug-in hybrids to the city’s fleet, with the accompanying charging infrastructure, through an innovative public-private partnership that saves the city money on our fleet operations;
  • Adding five Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEV) to service the BeltLine – two for the Police’s PATH Force, two for the Fire Department’s EMC unit, and one for Parks and Recreation;
  • Creating a one-year fellowship position housed in the Office of Sustainability that will focus on expanding low-emission vehicle opportunities in the city in partnership with the Electrification Coalition, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit group committed to policies that facilitate the deployment of electric vehicles on a mass scale;
  • Plans to add100 EV charging spaces at the Atlanta Airport parking decks, plus 300 spaces by end of 2017.

As a result, Atlanta now has one of the largest municipal electric fleets in the country and we’re not slowing down. The City is working closely with partners such as the Clean Cities Coalition and Georgia Power Company to expand our network of charging stations. Georgia Power is a strong advocate for EVs and even donated the city’s first EV car to our fleet (affectionately dubbed the “PoLeaf” since it’s used by APD to patrol the BeltLine).

With more Millennials moving to Atlanta and growing our workforce, we’re seeing greater interest in alternative commute options. In Mayor Kasim Reed’s Office of Sustainability, we’re working to ensure that these options are not only viable, but all the more practical and desirable. We hope to soon be at the point where saying “fill ‘er up” is as much of an anachronism as “hang up the phone.” Atlanta’s future is calling; let’s accept the charge.

Stephanie Stuckey Benfield is director of the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Sustainability.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.