NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Electric vehicles are a growing wave of the future. The state of Tennessee has been supporting the growth, and so has the city of Nashville.
“There’s a ton of activity going on in this space right now. Ton of opportunity, lots of federal financial assistance also available,” said Kendra Abkowitz, Metro Nashville Sustainability Chief.
Nashville is going electric with plans for busses, emergency equipment and an entire fleet of city vehicles switching over to plug-in as the need for replacements arise.
“Metro and general government has a pretty significant fleet. Right now, we have 3,900 vehicles and pieces of equipment in Metro’s fleet today. We are actively working to transition as many of those as possible to electric alternatives.”
To get everyone charged up for the change, the city has embarked on a new program that puts workers behind the wheel.
“The shared vehicles is essentially like a check in checkout kind of almost rental program, except there’s no fee that comes with it to the employee. There’s a mandatory training that’s required to actually utilize those car share vehicles,” said Abkowitz.
The program is called Socket. It was put into motion in 2018 with a fleet of Nissan LEAFs and Chevy Bolts. The plan is to keep expanding since the fleet is in high demand and well liked.
“The most frequent feedback that we get is, ‘Wow, it’s so quiet. I had no idea and EV was so quiet,’” said Abkowitz.
The city is also trying to advance the general use of EVs with a network of free charging stations placed in a diverse range of areas in Nashville.
“There’s significant concern in the public with the concept of range anxiety or access to available charging infrastructure. And so, you know, across Metro, we are used to our general services group manages 92, free electric vehicle charging ports across the city, and 62 are available for public use,” she explained.
While the city drives full speed into its mission, don’t be surprised if the bus your child takes to school silently guides them in the not-too-distant future.
“Our school bus fleet with Metro Nashville Public Schools, is considering that transition,” Abkowitz continued, “WeGo, our public transit system, is getting ready to develop what they would call a zero emissions fleet transition plan.”
Meanwhile, the city is also working on contingency plans in case of emergencies like the 2020 tornado outbreak when large areas lost power. Breaking up the power grid into microgrids and large scale battery storage are some ideas already in the works.