1st Round of Federal Fleet EV Conversion to Add $500 Million in Extra Costs: GAO

1st Round of Federal Fleet EV Conversion to Add $500 Million in Extra Costs: GAO
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg looks at an EVgo charging station during an electric vehicles event outside the Department of Transportation in Washington on Oct. 20, 2021. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Mark Tapscott

Twenty-six federal departments and agencies that plan to buy 9,500 electric vehicles (EV) to replace existing cars and trucks will have to spend nearly $500 million more than if they opted for new conventional fossil-fueled models, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

“This total represents almost $200 million in estimated increased incremental costs (i.e., the price differential, if any, between the alternative fuel vehicle and the lowest-priced comparable gasoline-powered vehicle when leased from the GSA [General Services Administration]) and almost $300 million in estimated costs to design and install the necessary infrastructure, among other potential expenses,” the agency stated in its analysis.

The conversion of the federal government’s more than 380,000 nonmilitary cars and trucks to EVs was mandated by President Joe Biden’s 2021 executive order that set a 2035 deadline to complete the process.

The 26 departments and agencies with approved transition plans operate nearly 90 percent of all federally owned nonmilitary vehicles. Only 260 EVs were bought by government agencies in 2022, so the 2023 goal of 9,500 such buys represents the first big step toward the electrically powered vehicle fleet mandated by Mr. Biden.

The higher purchase costs for converting to EVs have mainly to do with the higher bottom-end prices, which average about $76,000. However, that figure includes everything from the cheapest EV car, the Chevrolet Bolt, with a price range of $27,495 to $33,790, to the highest-price luxury models such as the Tesla Model X at $107,490 (base price), which are the mainstays of the EV market. The most expensive EV is the $460,000 Rolls-Royce Spectre, which the federal government is unlikely to purchase.
A station for charging electric vehicles in Irvine, Calif., on March 25, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
A station for charging electric vehicles in Irvine, Calif., on March 25, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

The added infrastructure costs are primarily for designing, building, and installing thousands of electrical charging stations, which typically cost $45,000 to $50,000 for a basic facility with two ports. But there are thousands of differently configured federal facilities, so costs will be much higher in many cases, according to the GAO.

In the GAO report, a GSA official explained that “if major electrical upgrades are necessary, such a project could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

“The extent and cost of the facility upgrades necessary to support a fully ZEV [zero-emission vehicle] fleet are uncertain until agencies conduct site assessments across all fleet locations. Such an endeavor will take time; for example, [as the Department of Homeland Security] DHS operates vehicles out of over 3,000 locations,” the official said.

Major upgrades and higher-than-projected costs to enable the installation of sufficient charging stations appear to be inevitable, based on what GAO was told by many of the 26 departments and agencies.

“Ten of 26 plans reported concerns that as fleet electrification progresses, it will become more difficult to supply the minimum electrical current necessary for larger numbers of Level 2 or DC fast chargers. For example, EPA’s [Environmental Protection Agency’s] strategic plan identified 59 such facilities that deploy up to 824 vehicles,” the report reads.

“Similarly, GSA officials said that many of their buildings have varying degrees of electrical capacity, and they are uncertain if some buildings have the additional electrical capacity needed to support the charging equipment for its internal fleet, which operates 730 vehicles across more than 300 locations. If a facility is found to have an undersized existing power supply—which can be identified via coordination with the local utility provider—it may require a utility to install and expand the necessary electrical infrastructure.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection also said many of its sites are in remote locations, which can pose a challenge to supplying the necessary electricity—in such scenarios, “utility side upgrades” may come with substantial costs, much of which may be passed on to the agency involved.”

Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) speaks at a hearing in Washington on Feb. 3, 2021. (Photo by SUSAN WALSH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) speaks at a hearing in Washington on Feb. 3, 2021. (Photo by SUSAN WALSH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The millions of tax dollars in additional spending required by the EV conversion is drawing fire from a powerful U.S. senator and an influential fossil fuel research group.

“It’s astonishing to me how far Joe Biden will go to satisfy the green radical factions of his party. Currently, we do not have the infrastructure to support [Mr.] Biden’s EV crusade,” Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), who’s a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, told The Epoch Times.

“The GAO report just further highlights how wildly out of touch the Biden administration is with the American people and insensitive to the financial hardship the White House has pushed on families from their reckless economic policies. When ‘Private Jet Pete’ and ‘Jet Setter John Kerry’ start taking their carbon footprint seriously, we can talk about it.”

The Kansas Republican was referring, respectively, to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and U.S. climate envoy John Kerry, former secretary of state and Democratic senator from Massachusetts.

Dan Kish, senior vice president at the Institute for Energy Research, told The Epoch Times that the Biden EV transition is part of a larger plan pushed by environmentalists and many Democrat politicians.

“The only ones who can afford EVs are the elites and the federal government, but the Biden administration is forcing two-thirds of all cars in a decade to be EVs. This is proof their argument EVs are cheaper is a bald-faced lie. It’s also proof Americans won’t be able to own a personal vehicle soon, by government design,” Mr. Kish said.

“No politician will say it out loud, but a lot of those pushing the green energy transition think the best system would be for everyone to take the bus or the subway or public transport. From the beginning of Earth Day, when activists buried automobiles and symbolically smashed them with hammers, until now, there has been a growing elitist movement that rejects the freedom Americans enjoy by having personal transportation. People like John Kerry think it’s OK for their important work but not for plumbers or farmers, or regular people.

“The elites really do believe they are different.”

Mark Tapscott is an award-winning senior Congressional correspondent for The Epoch Times. He covers Congress, national politics, and policy. Mr. Tapscott previously worked for Washington Times, Washington Examiner, Montgomery Journal, and Daily Caller News Foundation.
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