National Drive Electric Week in the US kicks off with utility fleet electrification pledges

A utility bucket truck that is all electric.

PGE, PNM, Exelon, Hawaiian Electric, Xcel and others plan to run at least some of their fleet operations with electric vehicles in the future.

This week, September 26-October 4, 2020 is the tenth annual National Drive Electric Week, a coast-to-coast celebration of electric vehicles (EVs) in the United States. Due to covid-19, more than 100 events planned for the week are virtual but there are plenty of in-person events, too.

The goal of Drive Electric Week is to highlight the environmental, health, and consumer benefits of clean plug-in vehicles. It’s hosted by Plug In America, Sierra Club, and Electric Auto Association.  

“The need for clean vehicles and clean air is more evident than ever. National Drive Electric Week plays a major role in educating people about rebates, charging, and any other questions that people may have about EVs, in busting misconceptions, and in getting people who are charged up about EVs to spread the enthusiasm. This year looks different as we prioritize keeping people safe during the COVID pandemic and expanding EV education online, but the enthusiasm around electric vehicles and their benefits remains the same,” said Hieu Le, campaign representative with the Sierra Club.

In related news, utilities are continuing the pledge to convert their fleets to electric. Public Services New Mexico (PNM) announced that it is stepping up to a new goal when it comes to electric vehicles (EVs). By 2025, 25% of all light duty fleet purchases by PNM Resources, the parent company of PNM, will be electric. By 2030, that number will grow to 50%. Light duty fleet consists of sedans, vans, SUVs, and most pickup trucks, such as F150s. 

PNM’s new commitment follows an announcement from the US Department of Transportation in late June to designate the first Alternative Fuel Corridors throughout New Mexico. PNM partnered with the New Mexico Department of Transportation, New Mexico Department of Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources, and the Land of Enchantment Clean Cities Coalition to earn this designation. The corridors represent an infrastructure network along national highways to encourage EV charging and other alternative fuels.

Story: I-5 Clean Energy Corridor needs freight-level EV charging every 50 miles and $850M, utilities say

Portland General Electric (PGE) also announced plans to electrify more than half of its fleet by 2030. The utility said last week that it would electrify more than 60% of its entire fleet by 2030, including electrifying 100% of the utility’s Class 1 vehicles—such as sedans, SUVs, and small pickups—as well as forklifts, by 2025. This commitment is part of PGE’s ongoing efforts to advance transportation electrification in Oregon.

“The future of transportation in Oregon is electric. We are taking this ambitious approach for our industry because we hope to pave the way for others to commit to bold fleet electrification advancements,” said Aaron Milano, Transportation Electrification Manager at Portland General Electric. “As we electrify our fleet in the years ahead, we are also committed to making electric fuel more accessible to everyone. We will apply our own experiences to help our customers large and small—from working with businesses and cities to electrify their fleets, to incentivizing home charging for residential customers.”

Today, PGE’s fleet contains 1,167 vehicles across 27 different facilities, including 91 electric vehicles currently in use. This new commitment will retire more than 600 fossil fuel-powered vehicles and deploy more than 600 electric vehicles over the next 10 years.

By 2030, PGE’s fleet will contain 61% electric vehicles: 

  • 100% electric Class 1 vehicles (by 2025)
    • Examples: sedans, SUVs, small pickups
  • 70% electric light-duty Class 2 vehicles
    • Examples: pickups, large SUVs, vans
  • 40% electric medium-duty vehicles
    • Examples: flatbeds, service bodies, large vans and bucket trucks
  • 30% electric heavy-duty vehicles
    • Examples: digger derricks, bucket trucks and dump trucks

Other utilities that have made similar pledges include Exelon, Hawaiian Electric and Xcel Energy:

Thor Hinkley of Forth Mobility gave a keynote address on “The E-Mobility Revolution” during last week’s DISTRIBUTECH + virtual event. You can catch the recap by registering for the series and then clicking here to view it.  

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Jennifer Runyon manages content on Renewable Energy World and POWERGRID International and also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH International. You can reach her at

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