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Jon Barney disconnects his electric car from a charging station at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020. YourAirYourUtah.org is a new website that provides a conduit for residents, businesses, developers and government entities to embrace strategies for cutting down on pollution that ultimately impairs air quality.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News, File

Salt Lake City seeks switch to more electric vehicles in coming years

By Carter Williams, KSL.com | Posted - Jan. 16, 2021 at 9:45 a.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's capital city is becoming more electric.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall and the Salt Lake City Council approved a joint resolution last month to switch most of the city's fleet vehicles to electric over the next six years. The resolution passed unanimously during a Dec. 8. 2020, city council meeting. It was officially recorded in city code earlier this month and will be added to Mendenhall's sustainability plan.

"As our city continues its push toward better air quality and environmental resilience, distilling our goals for electric transportation and committing to shifting our fleet is the right move," Mendenhall said in a statement about the resolution Wednesday.

The resolution calls for the city to phase out all of its gas-powered sedans, SUVs and pickup trucks by 2027. Plug-in sedans are to be purchased by 2023, SUVs by 2025, and pickup trucks by 2027, the resolution states.

The city will construct the charging infrastructure needed for the fleet of city-owned electric vehicles. It will also review possible electric options for medium and heavy-duty vehicles and off-road equipment purchases.

The document also calls on Salt Lake City leaders to work with the Utah Transit Authority, rideshare services, and other transportation companies for more electric options.

In addition, it calls for the encouragement of more electric vehicle charging infrastructure and policies in the city, which might influence residents to switch to electric vehicles as well. There are currently 20 public electric vehicle charging stations in Salt Lake City, according to city data.

"Salt Lake City Corporation will support the development of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, plus other programs, policies and projects that encourage the purchase and use of electric vehicles by local residents and non-governmental fleets," the document states. "The City will strive to accelerate uptake and use of electric vehicles at rates higher than national averages and in line with achieving local air quality and community carbon reduction goals."

The resolution furthers goals set up by the city over the past few years to address air quality and climate change concerns. Salt Lake County was named as one of the 25 worst counties in the country for short-term particulate matter and ozone air pollution in a 2020 American Lung Association report. City officials said the "petroleum-fueled on-road transportation sector" accounts for nearly one-fifth of energy-related greenhouse gasses emitted in Salt Lake City.

In 2016, then-Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and the city council passed a joint resolution to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2040, as well as an Electrified Transportation Roadmap in 2018. Salt Lake City officials also previously passed a goal of reaching net-100% renewable energy by 2030.

"This is another solid step toward the City's ongoing commitment to use cleaner energy and reduce pollution," said City Council Chair Amy Fowler in a statement. "Both government and private industry must continue to take every action possible to enable clean fuel usage."

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