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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Consultant could help city of Spokane electrify vehicle fleet

An electric vehicle charging station in Kendall Yards.   (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
An electric vehicle charging station in Kendall Yards.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

The future of the city of Spokane’s fleet of vehicles is green.

The question is how best to get there.

The city plans to hire a consultant to help answer that question as it looks to meet its goal of transitioning entirely to electric or biofuel-powered vehicles by 2030.

Pending City Council approval of a $98,000 contract, Frontier Energy, a California-based consulting firm, would conduct an inventory of the city’s fleet and develop a complete replacement plan.

The consulting firm would address infrastructure issues, such as the need for charging stations, and also review potential strategies for funding the entire effort.

The project was reviewed at the City Council’s Public Safety and Community Health Committee meeting on Monday.

The City Council in recent months has ramped up its pressure on the administration to begin electrification of the fleet. In April, the council adopted an ordinance that requires the city to purchase electric vehicles any time they’re available and cheaper than the gas-powered alternatives, effectively a reiteration of existing state law.

City Council President Breean Beggs has expressed dissatisfaction regarding the city’s progress on electrification.

But Monday, he lauded the city’s efforts to begin a study.

“I’ve thought for a long time that we should get an outside vendor to support us in this,” Beggs said.

In June, the City Council approved a lease of five electric vehicles for parking enforcement officers, recommended by city officials as a one-year pilot to help gauge the city’s capacity and readiness for an electric transition.

On Monday, it learned there have been snags in leasing the Hyundai Kona vehicles. Rick Giddings, the city’s fleet services director, said the challenges in acquiring the vehicles is due to a microchip shortage and COVID-related manufacturing delays.

“By the time we get a quote and give you an analysis on it and get it approved, vehicles are gone, there’s just a really tight supply,” Giddings said.

Now, the city is hoping to act quickly on leasing three Chevrolet Bolts.

“The (specifications) are very similar to the Kona,” Giddings said.

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