NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodDowntown Tallahassee


The upfront costs of sustainability are big, but Leon Co. leaders say it is worth it

Leon County Commissioner David O’Keefe says a commitment to reducing the county’s carbon footprint will save taxpayer dollars.
Posted at 7:25 PM, Apr 24, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-24 19:25:59-04
  • Leaders in Leon County are looking at new ways to go green when it comes to county vehicles.
  • To achieve its 30% conversion goal to greener vehicles, 34 vehicles will need to be fully electric by 2030.
  • Watch the video above to see what costs are involved and how leaders plan to get the job done.


Leaders across the US look for ways to reduce carbon emissions from cars and trucks.

Leon County is also working to go greener in neighborhoods across our area.
I was able to get an inside look at one of Leon County’s fully electric pick-up trucks.

For years now the county has worked to increase its number of electric and hybrid vehicles.

"Sustainability is nothing new for Leon County government,"
Maggie Theriot, the Director Office of Resource Stewardship said. "Actually, starting in 2008, we had a strategic plan specific to sustainability."

TheIntegrated Sustainability Plan covers hundreds of issues related to suitability one portion is transportation.

Three prongs related to sustainability in transportation

  • Reduce total fuel consumption by County Fleet by 30% by 2030.
  • Convert 30% of light-duty vehicles in the County Fleet to fully electric by 2030.
  • Ensure that all employees driving County vehicles receive “Green Driving Training.”

"As we migrate and look at more fuel efficient and electric vehicles," Theriot said. "By the end of the year will have 13 electric vehicles in ownership with more on order to come."

Light duty includes cars like this, sport utility vehicles, vans, and small pick-up trucks. The County operates and maintains 354 vehicles in its fleet, of which 114 are classified as light-duty.

Collectively, this fleet contributes 17% of the overall environmental impact of County operations, with buildings being attributed to three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions.

To achieve its 30% conversion goal, 34 vehicles will need to be fully electric by 2030.

To date, the County operates 10 fully electric vehicles. Three additional Ford trucks are on order, for a total of 13 EVs anticipated by the end of Fiscal Year 2024.

"We have very specific replacement criteria," Theriot said. "So it's a hybrid view of the miles that are on that vehicle, the age of the vehicle, and most important for us the repair costs."

The County has a software tool to evaluate the financial viability and environmental impact of fleet electrification.

"We may have some older vehicles in our fleet as old as 2005 2006, but they might be low miles or they might not be giving us any repair troubles," Theriot said. "So we're going to keep that on as long as we can. Whereas we focus on attrition and replacing those vehicles that are most problematic or highest in mileage."

In short, a gas vehicle will have had to run its course before getting changed to electric.

The County also operates 24 light-duty hybrid vehicles which contribute to the fuel reduction goal, complementing the 30% EV goal.

"We have building inspectors for the county," Theriot said. "And historically they were in a vehicle, a truck that was four-wheel drive to conduct their duties, well, we were able to find a hybrid that still met all the capacity and the storage needs met their operational needs."

In a fiscal year—Theriot said fuel could cost taxpayers anywhere between $3-3.5 million dollars.

Leon County Commissioner David O’Keefe says a commitment to reducing the county’s carbon footprint will save taxpayer dollars.

"It's both responsible for our environment and responsible financially," O’Keefe said.

Upfront costs can be a deterrent for some governments to start going green.

"While that upfront cost is more overall, the reduction in maintenance and operation costs and the reduction in fuel consumption costs is a net benefit," O’Keefe said.

By the end of 2024, there will be 22 charging ports across 11 county sites to support the existing County EV fleet.

"We expect $800,000 for the total upfront cost for all of the electric light-duty vehicles that we are going to be replacing in our fleet that allows us to meet that 2030 goal," O'Keefe said.

That price includes the charging stations and maintenance according to O'Keefe.

County staff said installation costs for Leon County EV charging stations have varied from $5,000 to upwards of $100,000 per site.

In a report, staff said, that although the charging equipment cost is relatively steady, the installation cost varies based on site location factors such as trenching, existing wiring, and required electrical upgrades.

"Where is no more opportunity to add additional electrical load to the infrastructure of some of our county sites," Theriot said. "This does require more advanced investment in our buildings."

It’s an investment they say is worth it.

“This is, again, a financially responsible way to move our county and our environment forward," Okeefe said.

The cost of those future electric vehicles and their infrastructure is already embedded into Leon County's current and future budgets. This means no additional taxpayer dollars are needed to fund the efforts.