SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The city of Savannah is taking the next step in its clean energy pledge — pumping the brakes on gas-powered vehicles and introducing an electric fleet.
On Wednesday, officials unveiled 21 electric vehicles that will be used by city employees. The city first began exploring the idea back in 2018, partnering with Georgia Power to help make it happen.
Nick Deffley, the director of sustainability, said it’s the first tangible step towards the city council’s goal of switching to 100% clean electricity by 2035 — and all energy citywide by 2050. Those two goals are part of the 100% Savannah Clean Energy Plan, adopted by the council in December.
“This is a direct kind of impact with this conversion to electric vehicles,” Deffley said. “These first 21 that we have here and the 91 hybrids all moving towards a more fuel-efficient fleet, more electric fleet, a more clean fleet — so that translates to cleaner air, you know, for our residents.”
Officials said the electric vehicles will save taxpayers money and the city a few million dollars.
“We don’t have fuel costs the same way, you know,” Deffley said. “We’re changing wiper blades, we’re filling air in the tires and that’s a lot of maintenance costs on these electric vehicles. So that goes down, fuel costs go down, and we’re just being more efficient and there’s no emissions coming out of those tailpipes.”
No emissions mean 100 tons of carbon — about the size of a blue whale — will be spared from the air residents breathe.
Alderman Nick Palumbo, who launched the city’s aluminum to-go cup program last year, said it takes a multi-layered approach to protect the environment. He believes it will ultimately make Savannah more resilient.
“This is all about doing right for our coastal environment and saving taxpayer dollars at the same time,” the District 4 alderman said. “If we can do this here in Savannah, Georgia, we look forward to sharing this experience with other coastal cities and other cities throughout our state to show how it can be done.”
The city has 24 charging stations across the city, which are also available for the public’s use. Six new charging stations will also be added to the State and Bryan Street parking garages, according to Deffley.
Officials said you can expect to see the entire fleet out on the roads within the next few weeks.