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The effort to bring more electric vehicles into the Department of Defense has been impacted by a few factors, including funding. Georgia Power is helping Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany with this effort. The company’s Make Ready program is piloting at the installation, in turn helping to accelerate the way forward. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Jennifer Parks)

Photo by Jennifer Parks

New funding push brings in electric vehicles to MCLB Albany

2 Aug 2021 | Jennifer Parks Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

An initiative from Marine Corps Installations Command is in place to bring electric vehicles into the fold. A presidential executive order came down earlier this year mandating an all-electric federal fleet.

The effort to bring more electric vehicles into the Department of Defense has been impacted by a few factors, including funding.

Georgia Power is helping Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany with this effort. The company’s Make Ready program is piloting at the installation, in turn helping to accelerate the way forward.

This program allows customers to apply for funding to assist in the infrastructure required to support electric transportation charging systems.

Ronnie Williams, fleet manager, Garrison Mobile Equipment, MCLB Albany, said the funding has further fueled the endeavor over the last few months to bring in additional vehicles and infrastructure.

The wheels have turned to motion at a tremendous pace.

“We reached back out to Georgia Power to get Level 2 charging stations,” Williams said. “Our goal is to have 12 stations; two in each area including GME, Marine Corps Police Department, the industrial area and Public Works.”

The fleet aboard MCLB Albany largely consists of small vans. Williams said, in the future, it is expected the base’s Public Works branch will get electric trucks as they become available.

“I would like to see smaller pick-ups,” Williams said.

The switch to greener vehicles is being implemented at the installation by onboarding them as it comes time to replace existing vehicles. There is a six-year, 60,000-mile limit before vehicle replacement is expected.

“We have already tried to make the transition, but the funding wasn’t there in the past,” Williams said.    

“It’s moved pretty fast so far,” he added regarding Make Ready. “As the fleet grows, we will need more capability to charge.”  

The Make Ready program allows MCLB Albany, in addition to infrastructure, to invest in at least two vehicles.

“We are getting two plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) vehicles coming in from General Services Administration,” Zach Haller, mobile equipment specialist supervisor, GME, MCLB Albany, said. “These vehicles will have a larger battery and electric motor, when compared to a normal hybrid vehicle, and they do charge via plug-in. During operation, when the battery runs out they switch back to gasoline.”

The Level 2 chargers coming in can charge a battery electric vehicle (BEV), also known as an all-electric vehicle, in eight hours or less. The Level 3 chargers or rapid chargers can charge up a vehicle in 20-30 minutes, depending on the vehicle’s battery capacity, Haller said.

The installation’s fleet has come largely through the GSA. The relationship with GSA remains intact as electric vehicles continue coming into the fence line.

“GSA is still supplying us,” Williams said. “As they increase their inventory, they forward information over to us to give us more options.”

Decisions are made as to where to place chargers as they are ordered, making sure they are utilized in a way to properly meet MCLB Albany’s needs.

“We want to try to use them in the best way possible,” Williams said. “We don’t want to put them in a place they won’t be used.”

The call on what additional new vehicles come in, and how many, is a few months away. The focus is on the plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, the ones powered by both electricity and fuel.

“It will be January when we do our order,” Williams said. “We will look to order more toward the end of the year.”

The needs of those the base supports also plays a role in moving the process along.

“It depends on our tenants using the vehicles, we can move vehicles around to meet tenant needs while monitoring utilization,” Haller said.             

The ambition is to make a strong and long-term commitment to enhancing energy-friendly initiatives on the base.

“I would like to see us be at 50% at some point over gas, or at least one-third,” Williams said.

Some of the energy-efficient vehicles MCLB Albany is investing in have regenerative braking. This function allows energy to be recovered when drivers brake slowly, extending the vehicle’s electric range and the life of the vehicle’s braking system.

Williams said MCICOM pays a good portion of the lease for GSA vehicles, about $34,000 a month, on the front end. The base covers any amount over those operating target funds.

“Their willingness to help us get the infrastructure in place is key to our success in implementing more electric vehicles,” Haller said of the Make Ready program. “Once the details are worked out, it will be a great partnership.”

“(Electric vehicles) reduce emissions and fuel costs for the base while aligning with new guidelines,” Haller added.

Georgia Power’s action in hitting the ground running makes a big difference for MCLB Albany.

“They are willing to help us and work with us,” Williams said. “The parts (for electric vehicles) may be more expensive, but a lot less maintenance.”

The Georgia Public Service Commission authorized Georgia Power to implement an Electrification of Transportation Initiative in 2019 to study the impacts of electric transportation on the electric grid and evaluate associated costs to assist customers in their transition to electric transportation, Les Charles, key account manager for federal, state and military at Georgia Power, explained. 

Out of the initiative, Make Ready was created allowing Georgia Power customers to apply for assistance from an $18 million fund to put in the infrastructure necessary to support electric charging stations.

“Georgia Power has been onsite and with the help of a dedicated MCLB team, developed a preliminary plan to get electric charging stations installed across the base in order to support its current residents and prepare for a future MCLB fleet of electric vehicles,” Charles said. “MCLB will partner with Georgia Power to perform a turn-key solution on design and installation, utilizing the Make Ready Program, which will significantly reduce costs.”

An executive order from GSA was put in place after the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act went into effect in 2015. The GSA executive order was for, by 2020, to have 20% of the fleet be either zero emission or plug-in hybrid cars. An extension of the FAST Act opened up surface transportation funding reauthorization through September of this year.

MCLB Albany began incorporating more green vehicles as it moved closer to achieving “Net Zero” status, meaning the total amount of energy used by MCLB Albany equals to the amount of renewable energy created onsite, or by renewable energy sources offsite.

Williams said there are more than 130 green vehicles currently in the installation’s fleet.

Before Headquarters Marine Corps signs off on new vehicles, approval goes through the regional GSA representative and Marine Corps Installations East. Funding weighs heavily in the decision of where and how vehicles are distributed.

A BEV qualifies as a zero-emission vehicle. A PHEV is a vehicle propelled by both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor and counts toward federal zero emissions mandates. Hybrid electric vehicles, or HEVs, is a vehicle powered by the engine and fuel of a conventional vehicle with the batteries of an electric motor.

HEVs do not need to be plugged in to utilize electric power and does not count toward zero emissions mandates.

The range for these vehicles is 70+ miles for BEV, 19-53 miles for all-electric and 420+ combined miles for PHEV and 500 miles for HEV, a report from GSA said.

GSA said electric vehicles are well suited for agencies when:

  • The average distance traveled per day is up to 60 miles
  • Vehicles operate primarily on paved roadways
  • Vehicles do a lot of start-stop driving or have long idle times
  • Vehicles do not to carry large loads
  • Charging station infrastructure exists, plugs are available at the parking location or the agency has the money to obtain charging stations
  • Local dealerships are authorized to service/repair electric vehicles
  • Vehicles need to carry five or fewer people

Batteries on electric vehicles usually have an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty. The time required to charge depleted batteries, the U.S. Department of Energy said, can range from less than 30 minutes to almost a full day depending on the size and type of batteries, as well as the type of charging equipment used.

The DOE said there are several benefits making PEVs attractive such as high fuel economy, low operating cost, flexible fueling, high performance, low emissions and energy security. Availability in the U.S. has grown rapidly in recent years.

The basics on charging equipment includes:

  • Level 1 EVSE:  Provides charging through a 120-volt alternating-current. Most PEVs come with a Level 1 EVSE cord set. Typically used for charging when only a 120-V outlet is available. Based on battery type and vehicle, Level 1 charging adds about two to five miles of range to PEV per hour of charging time. Cost ranges from $500-$1,000.
  • Level 2 EVSE: Can easily charge a typical EV battery overnight, and is common installation for residential, workplace, fleet and public facilities. Based on battery type, charger configuration and circuit capacity, Level 2 charging adds about 10-20 miles of range to a PEV per hour of charging time, depending on the power level of the onboard charger. Equipment cost range from $500-$7,000.
  • Direct-Current Fast Charging:  Enables rapid charging and is generally located at sites along heavy traffic corridors and at public fueling stations. Can add 60-80 miles of range to a light-duty PEV in 20 minutes.

There are more than 27,000 EVs in Georgia, and DOE predicts this number will rise to 225,000 by 2030.

The presidential mandate to make the federal fleet all electric was part of an executive order signed by President Joseph Biden in January. It established the National Climate Task Force to “facilitate the organization and development of a Government-wide approach to combat the climate crisis.” Among the tasks at hand is to use all available procurement authorities to achieve or facilitate “clean and zero-emission vehicles for Federal, State, local, and Tribal government fleets.”

Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany