Loudoun Supervisors Advance Charging Station, Electric Fleet Plans

The Board of Supervisors’ finance committee on Tuesday, Sept. 13 moved on plans to install electric vehicle charging stations at county facilities across Loudoun, and to begin converting part of the county government fleet to zero-emissions vehicles.

After reworking the plan for charging stations at county facilities to emphasize installing them first at public-facing facilities like park-and-ride lots, libraries and rec centers, the committee sent that plan to the full board for approval. That plan previously had targeted many facilities mainly trafficked by government employees instead, until supervisors asked the county staff to make the change.

“We prioritized the public-facing facilities, but also put an emphasis on spreading the facilities that we tackle first to make sure that they’re spread out through the county,” said Department of Transportation and Capital Infrastructure Assistant Director Scott Worrest. “… We tried to pick the best locations where someone would go to charge a car and spend time somewhere, like a park, [or] a rec center.”

Worrest said the plan is to install Level 2 chargers, the middle ground between the Level 3 rapid chargers that can charge a vehicle in an hour, and the Level 1 chargers that often charge overnight. He said most of the facilities could not support the heavier electrical load of the rapid chargers currently.

Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles), who first raised the concerns about the first draft of the plan, worried drivers maybe staying too long at a charging station, particularly at park-and-ride lots where cars typically sit while their drivers take a bus into work.

“I see this becoming a bit of an issue if we only have like four [charging stations],” he said. “Whoever gets there first, they’re going to lock it up all day, and it could be the same person every single day because he takes the first bus.”

Letourneau suggested implementing time limits at the charging stations, with the possibility of vehicles being ticketed if they stay parked too long. General Services Director Ernie Brown said the county hasn’t seen the problem yet at the Harmony Park and Ride, the only such lot in the county with chargers already. The county also has installed charging stations at the new Metro station parking garages.

The committee also directed county staff members to look into getting permission from the owners to install charging stations at two sites the county leases, the Gum Spring Library and Sterling Library.

“I’m really proud that we decided to do the public facing facilities first, because I think that shows that we’re, as a county, interested in this, and we want to lead in taking emissions out of the air and working on our environmental issues writ large,” Supervisor Juli E. Briskman (D-Algonkian) said.

The county’s plan would bring the chargers to county facilities in three phases. The first phase includes 85 charging stations—two charging heads each—at parks, libraries, community centers, and park-and-ride lots across the county, as well as the Pennington Garage in Leesburg. At some of those facilities, work is already underway to design and install them, such as at Bles District Park, the Ashburn Recreation and Community Center, and the Sterling Community Center.

County supervisors have already dedicated $1 million in local tax funding this year to installing the charging stations, with another $3 million set aside in the Capital Improvement Program in future years. Future phases will likely be heavily funded from other sources as well, with $2 million in federal grants allocated in Fiscal Year 2025, and $3 million in federal grants in fiscal year 2027. County staff members are evaluating possible sources for that grant funding like the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Work also continues on a plan to convert part of the county’s fleet into zero- or lower-emissions vehicles. According to a county staff report, out of the 1,551 vehicles in the county fleet, 356 can feasibly be replaced with electric vehicles today. They are smaller vehicles used in administrative roles, such as cars and SUVs, as opposed to heavier vehicles such as trash trucks, or specially modified vehicles such as Sheriff’s Office cruisers. County staff and consultants looked at those vehicles to see if today’s electric vehicles could serve the same role.

Brown said technology today cannot yet replace a Sheriff’s Office cruiser or heavy-duty vehicle without operational impacts. Those administrative vehicles, however, said consultant Mercury Associates Senior Manager Mark Canton, are well suited for replacement—“in this particular case, for Loudoun County in particular, it’s a very strong use case.”

The replacement plan calls for the first of those vehicles to be replaced in 2026, when they are scheduled to be retired and would be replaced with electric vehicles. The county would replace 123 vehicles that year.

Mercury Associates also studied the related costs based on today’s prices, and found that to maintain the same size fleet—ignoring price changes and the growth of the fleet over time—the additional cost of buying electric vehicles would be partially offset by savings on fuel and maintenance, working out to approximately an additional $750,000 a year in spending, or $15 million over 20 years, compared to continuing to use gas-powered cars.

But supervisors decided that plan needs some more work, with an eye toward creating more flexibility to pursue other options like hybrid vehicles.

“I feel like if we’re approving this plan we’re just blanketly giving you permission to go spend an extra $15 million over 20 years, and I think we need to take it a little bit more as it comes and look at what’s actually available from a technology perspective, a cost perspective and an emissions perspective, and what makes sense for us at that time,” Letourneau said.

Supervisors agreed to the keep that plan in committee a bit longer while county staff members write those revisions to possibly include hybrid vehicles or other low-emissions vehicles.

Committee members passed both the charging station vote and electric vehicle vote 4-0-1, with County Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) absent.

8 thoughts on “Loudoun Supervisors Advance Charging Station, Electric Fleet Plans

  • 2022-09-16 at 8:29 pm

    Green ev’s are a myth! BoS virtue signals once again!

  • 2022-09-17 at 11:17 am

    Letourneau has no clue about this topic, obviously.
    A Level 2 charger TAKES ALL DAY to “fill” an EV. That’s why there’s such a need for DC fast charger locations.

    The lousy 6.5kw chargers at Harmony Park and Ride take 10 to 12 hours to bring the typical longer range EV from 20% to 80% charge. So yeah, someone is very likely going to “lock it up all day.” It’s simple math.

    I wish this guy didn’t have control over transportation decisions for this county.

  • 2022-09-18 at 6:39 am

    Materials for the batteries come from China, they have slaves working the mines and our BoS supports this. Randall and company perpetuating slavery at a higher cost to taxpayers all the while saying we are for the environment, digested baloney!

  • 2022-09-18 at 1:12 pm

    Why are we spending local tax dollars to execute a federal program? Why aren’t we charging county commuter bus users mileage based rates if we really care about fossil fuel use? Why aren’t we (the BOS) objecting to LCPS having fossil fueled buses running all over Loudoun with less than 50% fill of students?
    Why don’t we vote in local elections so we get the kind of quality Supervisor Leesburg has for the entire county? 🙂

  • 2022-09-19 at 9:50 am

    This is yet another boondoggle in the making. Why is the government now in the business of “fueling” certain kinds of automobiles? As the article points out, all of this expense will go into charging a handful of automobiles a day. It’s not clear whether there is an actual need for these stations or simply represent more virtue signaling by the board on the taxpayer’s dime.

    Is there no waste of money that the county board will not eagerly embrace and fund with our tax dollars? This really represents a subsidy of the wealthiest Loudoun residents by the poorest who will never benefit from these charging stations. Perhaps the board can study the feasibility of a yacht marina on the river next. Of course, it would only serve electric yachts.

  • 2022-09-20 at 11:34 am

    Most EV owners charge at home, super convenient, cheap etc. for someone who owns their home and has a garage/parking space. Unfortunately, people who live in condos or rentals can have difficulty getting the HOA/landlord to install a charger. It would be beneficial for the County to look at ways to encourage this for new development and use funds to encourage existing multi-dwelling property owners to retrofit chargers. This would be preferable to spending 1 million dollars for 85 charge points at Libraries etc which is not the best use of funds ($11,765/installtion). Many private entities have already installed EV chargers in popular shopping areas etc, do we really need them at the libraries and rec centers?

    On the topic of the County fleet, “Brown said technology today cannot yet replace a Sheriff’s Office cruiser or heavy-duty vehicle without operational impacts.” This is untrue. Check out the Police Program in Bargersville, Indiana which currently utilizes 10 EVs in it’s patrol car fleet and has been in place for 3 years now.

    They found over the course of its first year, the EV saved the department $6,320 in fuel and maintenance costs in comparison to the gasoline-powered sedan the department traditionally purchases. The purchase price is $14,500 more than its traditional vehicle. With the fuel and maintenance savings the department has seen over the course of the first year, the department expects to recoup its investment in just 19 months.

    This real-world experience contradicts Loudoun County’s consultant Mercury Associates report that “the additional cost of buying electric vehicles would be partially offset by savings on fuel and maintenance, working out to approximately an additional $750,000 a year in spending, or $15 million over 20 years, compared to continuing to use gas-powered cars.” Hybrids are a worse choice, giving added costs/complexity and increased maintenance compared to an EV or standard internal combustion vehicle.

    As for the comments about virtue signaling, using slave labor for mining, and the myth of EVs being good for the environment, it is important to factor in the negative health impacts of burning hydrocarbons on our local community’s health, the geopolitical disaster of oil/gas (Russia as the most recent example), the environmental costs of petroleum extraction/refining/transport etc.

  • 2022-09-20 at 7:34 pm

    We have a gold mine worth of oil where does your electricity come from?

  • 2022-09-21 at 10:45 am

    Not sure who your question is to but I generate more electricity from my roof top solar array than I consume and the system has already paid for itself by decreasing my electric bill.

    The “gold mine” of oil brings with it a lot of negative impacts locally and around the world. Nobody in Virginia is drilling for oil so why should Virginians support an industry that enriches other states? The wars we have fought over oil and tolerating the antics of countries like Saudi Arabia are examples of why we should work to transition away from this energy source.

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