WASHINGTON (AP) — In a major boost for President Joe Biden’s pledge to eliminate gas-powered vehicles from the sprawling federal fleet, the Postal Service said Tuesday it will sharply increase the number of electric-powered delivery trucks — and will go all-electric for new purchases starting in 2026.
The post office said it is spending nearly $10 billion to electrify its aging fleet, including installing a modern charging infrastructure at hundreds of postal facilities nationwide and purchasing at least 66,000 electric delivery trucks in the next five years. The spending includes $3 billion in funding approved under a landmark climate and health policy adopted by Congress last year.
The White House hailed the announcement as a way to sustain reliable mail service to Americans while modernizing the fleet, reducing operating costs and increasing clean air in neighborhoods across the country.
“This is the Biden climate strategy on wheels, and the U.S. Postal Service delivering for the American people,” said White House climate adviser Ali Zaidi.
The new plan “sets the postal fleet on a course for electrification, significantly reduces vehicles miles traveled in the network and places USPS at the forefront of the clean transportation revolution,” added John Podesta, a senior White House adviser.
The U.S. government operates the largest vehicle fleet in the world, and the Postal Service is the largest fleet in the federal government with more than 220,000 vehicles, one-third of the overall U.S. fleet. The USPS announcement “sets the bar for the rest of the federal government, and, importantly, the rest of the world,” the White House said.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who came under fire for an initial plan that included purchase of thousands of gas-powered trucks, said the Postal Service is required by law to deliver mail and packages to 163 million addresses six days a week and to cover its costs in doing so.
“As I have said in the past, if we can achieve those objectives in a more environmentally responsible way, we will do so,” he said in a statement Tuesday.
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FILE - In this Aug. 24, 2020, file photo, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testifies during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on the Postal Service on Capitol Hill in Washington.
A plan announced by DeJoy in February would have made just 10% of the agency’s next-generation fleet electric. The Environmental Protection Agency criticized the Postal Service, an independent agency, for underestimating greenhouse gas emissions and failing to consider more environmentally sound alternatives.
Environmental groups and more than a dozen states, including California, New York and Illinois, sued to halt the initial plan and asked judges to order a more thorough environmental review before the Postal Service moves forward with the fleet-modernization program. The Postal Service later adjusted its plan to ensure that half of its initial purchase of 50,000 next-generation vehicles would be electric.
Katherine García, director of the Sierra Club’s clean transportation campaign, called the plan announced Tuesday “a massive win for climate and public health” and a common-sense decision.
“Instead of receiving pollution with their daily mail packages, communities across the U.S. will get the relief of cleaner air,” she said.
“Every neighborhood, every household in America deserves to have electric USPS trucks delivering clean air with their mail, and today’s announcement takes us almost all the way there,” said Adrian Martinez, a senior attorney for Earthjustice, one of the groups that sued the Postal Service.
In addition to modern safety equipment, the new delivery vehicles are taller, making it easier for postal carriers to grab the packages that make up a greater share of volume. They also have improved ergonomics and climate control.
Encouraging Americans to switch to electric vehicles is just one step toward nationwide, zero-emission vehicle utility. In addition to affordable, available fleets of electric vehicles, each state must have the infrastructure to support these cars. This includes adequate charging stations and "Alternative Fuel Corridors," or a network of alternative fueling stations.
Per data from the U.S. Department of Energy, nearly 59% of all electric vehicle charging stations in the U.S. opened in the last two years. The General compiled a list of the 10 states across the country with the biggest increase in electric vehicle charging station openings in that time, using data from the U.S. Department of Energy. States were ranked by comparing the number of stations opened before and after September 2020. Progress seems to be distributed relatively evenly across regions, although two traditional tech hubs—California and Massachusetts—both found their way into the top five.
To help states move toward a zero-emission future, the Biden administration in November 2021 signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which will distribute $7.5 billion to update and install EV chargers along AFCs.
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- Electric vehicle charging stations opened September 2020 and earlier: 103
- Electric vehicle charging stations opened after September 2020: 160
- Percentage increase in total stations 2020-22: 155.3%
Rhode Island had 2,550 registered electric vehicles as of Dec. 31, 2021. This total could have been influenced by the Electrify RI charging station incentive, which ended in July 2021. That program used $1.4 million to install a series of EV charging stations throughout the state. However, Rhode Island's dedication to zero-emission vehicles does not stop at cars: Its Public Transit Authority is also piloting an electric bus system.
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- Electric vehicle charging stations opened September 2020 and earlier: 276
- Electric vehicle charging stations opened after September 2020: 438
- Percentage increase 2020-22: 158.7%
Utah had 16,480 registered electric vehicles at the beginning of 2022. To encourage the purchase of electric vehicles and their charging stations, various incentives have been introduced.
Among these are Rocky Mountain Power's Residential Electric Vehicle Charging Station rebate, which returns $200 to individuals who install a charging station. Together with seven other Western states, Utah is part of the Intermountain West Electric Vehicle Corridor, which will facilitate EV travel through those states' major highways. Uniquely, Utah offers tax credits for residents who buy heavy-duty electric cars, while most other states only do so for light EVs.
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- Electric vehicle charging stations opened September 2020 and earlier: 43
- Electric vehicle charging stations opened after September 2020: 73
- Percentage increase 2020-22: 169.8%
Delaware's 3,010 registered EVs will likely rise in coming years as incentive programs in the state take hold. The Delaware Clean Vehicle Rebate program encourages citizens to buy or lease zero-emission vehicles. Under the program, anyone who has bought or leased an EV is eligible for anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500 in return. This includes battery and plug-in EVs and vehicles running on propane or natural gas. The program is in effect until Dec. 31, 2022.
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- Electric vehicle charging stations opened September 2020 and earlier: 311
- Electric vehicle charging stations opened after September 2020: 536
- Percentage increase 2020-22: 172.3%
Arizona took advantage of the IIJA quickly, becoming one of the first states to approve its plans for installing and accommodating additional electric charging stations. The state currently has 40,740 registered electric vehicles.
Over the coming year, Arizona will have access to $27.6 million to begin implementing EV infrastructure, with a remaining $48.9 million available over the next five years. The Arizona Department of Transportation will designate Alternative Fuel Corridors and new charging stations. Existing stations will also be updated, with key locations continually identified.
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- Electric vehicle charging stations opened September 2020 and earlier: 349
- Electric vehicle charging stations opened after September 2020: 614
- Percentage increase 2020-22: 175.9%
Missouri's electric vehicle inventory sits at 10,050, with infrastructure in place to encourage growth. The state's Electric Vehicle Charging Station Grants fund the installation of charging stations through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Ameren, Evergy, and Kirkwood Electric all offer rebates for the purchase and installation of charging stations.
Missouri has begun working with the National Electric Highway Coalition to optimize the use of these stations. Stations will be strategically installed along major Missouri highways to enable long-distance travel by electric vehicle.
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- Electric vehicle charging stations opened September 2020 and earlier: 19
- Electric vehicle charging stations opened after September 2020: 34
- Percentage increase 2020-22: 178.9%
Alaska's small number of 1,290 registered electric vehicles can be attributed to its small population, but its plethora of zero-emission incentive programs may change that. Under the Residential Electric Vehicle Charging Station Credit and Commercial Rebates partner program, Alaskans who install EV charging stations can be reimbursed by the Chugach Electric Association.
Individuals can receive $200 per station, and commercial customers can receive rebates ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 per station. Alaska Power and Telephone repays $1,000 to individuals who have purchased an electric vehicle. Alaska Electric Light & Power also provides EV owners a Time of Use-based rebate.
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- Electric vehicle charging stations opened September 2020 and earlier: 4,660
- Electric vehicle charging stations opened after September 2020: 8,935
- Percentage increase 2020-22: 191.7%
California holds the record for the country's highest number of registered electric vehicles. At 563,070 EVs registered as of December 2021, the state is home to around 39% of all EVs in the country.
California has also laid out the most ambitious plans to encourage the use of electric vehicles so far. By 2035, new gasoline-powered cars will no longer be available for purchase, marking a total switch to zero-emission vehicles instead. To achieve this, vehicle manufacturers will have to increase the percentage of electric models produced to 35% in 2026, 68% in 2030, and finally, 100% in 2035.
- Electric vehicle charging stations opened September 2020 and earlier: 67
- Electric vehicle charging stations opened after September 2020: 137
- Percentage increase 2020-22: 204.5%
Though Nebraska may only have 2,710 registered electric vehicles, its many incentive programs will hopefully increase that number in the coming years. Around $6 million a year will be available to the state government for the next five years to build additional charging stations. These will be installed along designated AFCs, encompassing Interstate 80, Highway 31, and Highway 6.
Programs such as the Alternative Fuel Vehicle and Fueling Infrastructure Loans as well as the All-Electric Vehicle and EV Charging Station Rebates will allow individuals and corporations to take advantage of new EV-focused infrastructure. Loans and rebates ranging from $500 to $500,000 will encourage purchasing charging stations, batteries, and vehicles.
- Electric vehicle charging stations opened September 2020 and earlier: 328
- Electric vehicle charging stations opened after September 2020: 684
- Percentage increase 2020-22: 208.5%
It makes sense that Michigan would lead the way in transformative policies for vehicles, considering it is the vehicle manufacturing capital of the U.S. The state's 17,460 registered electric vehicles stand to grow once several planned EV infrastructures are implemented. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently announced that the companies Gotion and Our Next Energy will build EV battery plants worth around $4 billion in Big Rapids and Wayne County.
Initiatives like the Charge Up Michigan Placement Project and Alternative Fuel Vehicle Emissions Inspection Exemption incentivize individuals to opt for electric vehicles. Michigan has also made efforts to drum up excitement around electric vehicles with events like electric vehicle ride-and-drives, where locals can test drive EVs.
- Electric vehicle charging stations opened September 2020 and earlier: 637
- Electric vehicle charging stations opened after September 2020: 1,499
- Percentage increase 2020-22: 235.3%
Massachusetts' most recent number of registered electric vehicles came in at 30,470. Considering the state had the largest increase in charging stations since 2020, this number can only be expected to grow in the coming years.
Massachusetts has multiple incentive programs to help bolster these numbers, particularly from Massachusetts Offers Rebates for Electric Vehicles. This allows individuals and businesses who have recently purchased electric vehicles to apply for $4,000 in rebates and battery funds. Additionally, through the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Electric Vehicle Incentive Program, employers can have up to 60% of funding covered to install electric vehicle charging stations.
This story originally appeared on The General and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.
AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File
FILE - A USPS logo adorns the back doors of United States Postal Service delivery vehicles as they proceed westbound along 20th Street from Stout Street and the main post office in downtown Denver, Wednesday, June 1, 2022.