Upper Peninsula, extreme cold weather area
Marquette is no stranger to sustainability. Years before the City Commission passed its 2021 Climate Action Resolution (a commitment to make holistic efforts to eliminate citywide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050), the community was already reducing its carbon footprint by decommissioning coal-fired plants and participating in energy optimization projects. So, when Marquette joined the MiNextCities program, the question city leaders were asking wasn’t “How do we start?” but rather “What’s next?”
With the transportation sector accounting for a quarter of the state’s overall greenhouse gas emissions, fleet electrification seemed like a clear next step. Yet concerns about the impact on battery life and vehicle range in a cold-weather climate loomed for this application in the Upper Peninsula. The City needed first-hand experience with electric vehicles (EVs) to evaluate year-round performance before making the long-term financial and infrastructure commitment required for this switch.
That’s where we came in.
Working closely with staff in the motor pool and facilities divisions, our team developed a proposal for the City to pilot three EVs: two Ford E-Transit vans and one Mean Green commercial lawnmower. We tailored the proposal to account for the City’s capital outlay plan, the integration of new charging systems into the motor pool’s existing fuel management system, and demonstration of a variety of EV use cases.
As drivers test these vehicles in the field, program staff will also develop a longer-term electrification strategy based on the results we gather about vehicle performance, maintenance/fueling costs, and qualitative user assessments to present to the City for future budgeting and infrastructure planning. It’s our hope that this demonstration will illustrate that with thoughtful planning, fleet electrification is an attainable goal for all Michigan communities.
For Marquette, a successful program will bolster the city’s work in developing a holistic Climate Action Plan that will chart the course for meeting the community’s climate, energy, and environmental goals for the decades to come.
MiNextCities will make Marquette a living laboratory for smart cities technologies. Residents can experience the benefits of emissions-reduction efforts as well as cost savings from long-term investments in efficient infrastructure and fleet electrification programs that reduce operations and maintenance spending – freeing up resources for public-facing programs or other infrastructure upgrades.