GOVERNMENT

Despite infrastructure concerns, bill to electrify state vehicle fleet heads to Delaware Senate

By Joseph Edelen
Posted 6/12/24

DOVER— Lawmakers in the House of Representatives debated a proposal to gradually move the state’s vehicle fleet to zero-emission standards on Tuesday, which ultimately passed in a …

You must be a member to read this story.

Join our family of readers for as little as $5 per month and support local, unbiased journalism.


Already a member? Log in to continue.   Otherwise, follow the link below to join.

Please log in to continue

Log in
GOVERNMENT

Despite infrastructure concerns, bill to electrify state vehicle fleet heads to Delaware Senate

Posted

DOVER— Lawmakers in the House of Representatives debated a proposal to gradually move the state’s vehicle fleet to zero-emission standards on Tuesday, which ultimately passed in a near-party line vote.

House Bill 9, led by Rep. Krista Griffith, D-Fairfax, would require 15% of the state's passenger and light duty vehicles to be zero emission by 2026, increasing to 25% in 2029 and 50% by 2032, leading up to 100% by 2040.

“We have seen a lot of legislation in recent years and other regulations concerning electric vehicles. I drafted this legislation because I thought it was important that the state practice the behavior that it is seeking to implement in other areas such as the private sector,” Rep. Griffith said on the House floor Tuesday.

In November 2023, the state announced its intent to adopt California’s Advanced Clean Car II regulations to aid its greenhouse gas reduction goals. The zero-emission vehicle availability requirement will begin at 43% in model year 2027 but will be capped at 82% in model year 2032.

Under House Bill 9, all law enforcement and school district vehicles would be exempt. The legislation was amended Tuesday to extend exemptions to emergency vehicles, as well as requiring the Office of Management and Budget to submit an implementation report every three years, and an analysis of further greenhouse gas reduction efforts by 2035.

The legislation received pushback from Republican lawmakers, such as Rep. Rich Collins, R-Millsboro, who said the legislation did not go far enough.

“What are we doing here? We allowed (Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control) to put in a mandate on our people that says…by model year 2027, 42% of their choices at the dealer will be electric,” Rep. Collins contested. “If it's such a great idea, let's make it 42% (for the state), just like the mandate that we're putting on the private sector.”

As the debate continued on the floor, lawmakers like Rep. Valerie Jones Giltner, R-Georgetown; Rep. Jeff Spiegelman, R-Clayton; and Rep. Jeff Hilovsky, R-Millsboro, expressed concerns regarding battery life, electric vehicle infrastructure and the ability for the electric grid to support the state’s move toward zero-emission vehicles.

Rep. Griffith called Peter Korolyk, director of the Office of Management and Budget’s Government Support Services team, to provide testimony on the department’s efforts, and he noted that those concerns would be addressed over time as the market and state adapt to electric vehicles.

The state owns about 3,000 vehicles in total, he said, though only 50% would apply to the policy when considering exemptions for law enforcement, emergency vehicles and school buses.

With about 1,500 of state vehicles under the purview of the bill, and the 15% benchmark for 2026, Mr. Korolyk said the state would need 78 vehicles to meet this goal when considering the existing 170 zero-emission vehicles currently in the fleet.

As the debate continued, Rep. Bryan Shupe, R-Milford, again raised concerns regarding battery life and electric vehicle infrastructure; specifically, how the time to charge a vehicle may impact the efficiency of state employees, since current charging infrastructure takes longer than a typical trip to the gas station.

“It just adds another… obstacle during the day that is really not only frustrating for them, but kind of takes them out of their role,” he said.

Mr. Korolyk went on to detail ongoing efforts the state and his agency are taking to prepare Delaware for the move to zero-emission vehicles, both in the private and public sectors. Of those efforts, the director again said that, over time, concerns like the availability of chargers and the time it takes to repower an electric vehicle will dissipate.

“We anticipate that to be less of a concern than immediately. But there will be some growing pains, and we are doing our best to listen to our clients, because we ultimately serve them, and they serve the citizenry. As a resident, I hear that loud and clear,” Mr. Korolyk said.

House Minority Leader Mike Ramone, R-Newark, questioned if the state had considered hybrid vehicles for its fleet - or even hydrogen powered cars - considering the state is exploring the establishment of hydrogen hubs within its boundaries.

Regarding hydrogen, Mr. Korolyk said in response that the state was not exploring the technology considering the lack of infrastructure and potential risk to Delaware residents, which Rep. Ramone noted was how many of his colleagues continue to feel about the move to zero-emission vehicles.

Following the debate, lawmakers passed House Bill 9 as amended by a 23 to 14 vote, with Rep. Sean Matthews, of Brandywine, the lone Democrat to oppose the measure. The legislation now heads to the Senate for further consideration

Members and subscribers make this story possible.
You can help support non-partisan, community journalism.

x
X