If you think climate realism of Louisiana’s Republican legislative majorities will keep the climate alarmism of Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards from hurting Louisianans, think again.
Earlier this year, Edwards’ task force designed to produce recommendations to force the state into hitting the alarmists’ goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and halfway there by 2035 issued its report. The most drastic measures are dead in the water without cooperation by the Legislature and GOP-majority Public Service Commission, but it outlined plenty of mischief available for perpetration onto the state in the remainder of his term.
Last week, he gave some insight into that by acting on one of the pieces of advice rendered in the report. Upon receipt of the first tranche of funding from the Democrat Pres. Joe Biden Administration (assisted into law by Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy) for electric vehicle (EV) charging station rollout, he announced plans to transitioning the state’s public fleet to low- and zero-emission vehicles by a rolling replacement of state vehicles across all agencies.
A simple numbers-crunching exercise shows this will spring huge costs onto Louisiana taxpayers, compared to using a fleet with conventional internal combustion engine vehicles (ICE). Four quantifiable cost areas differ between the two: the initial sticker price, repairs and maintenance, insurance, and energy costs.
First, the size of the fleet in question is about 10,000 vehicles. This is computed from 2020 data adjusted by ratios from the 2015 fleet that specify how many public vehicles in the state belong to it, as opposed to local governments, and subtracting out 2,000 or so heavy-duty vehicles unlikely to have EV models available.
Considering that the typical cost of a new EV, new sales of which are about 3.4 percent of all vehicles with an average purchase price of about $46,000, was around $60,000. Backing out the EV price to get an ICE price, that makes the difference $14,400. Thus, to replace the entire fleet today would cost taxpayers an extra $144 million.
That’s up front, and then there are the variable annual costs. Great debate has emerged over maintenance and repair, with EVs having the advantage of fewer moving parts that should require less maintenance, but with repairs typically costing more because of the nature of the drive train and expertise necessary reflected in labor charges. Evidence to date indicates EVs cost more on this account in earlier years and less later, so let’s call this a wash.
Insurance, however, favors ICEs. It runs about 15 percent higher for EVs, due to their greater cost and nature of repairs, which in Louisiana translates to about $300 annually. However, this may net out and more from energy costs, which at present would favor EVs considerably by about $600 a year.
Keep in mind both of these can change substantially over time; the state’s high insurance costs as these come down diminishes the ICE insurance advantage, and especially the volatile prices of oil can do the same to the EV fuel advantage, especially if the same climate alarmism that motivates public EV purchase causes reliance on more expensive renewable sources for the electricity to run these (which would dissolve Louisiana’s competitive advantage in low electricity prices). As a result, I would guess over the next decade these also act as a wash.
Finally, let’s make some generous assumptions about charging capabilities, beginning with the enormous startup expenditures to install a charger the Biden bonanza eliminates. Let’s also assume the entire 10,000 EVs have ready access to typical charging stations within their driving ranges and this charging doesn’t take much time out of the working day. This does require some dramatic suspension of disbelief, because the typical Level 2 charger available publicly (and at present with considerable gaps between urban areas and in amount within many of these) takes about 12 hours for a typical full charge, and even the much more expensive fast chargers take four times as long to “fill up” vehicle fuel capacity than at the pump. The intangibles here alone could add (let’s say an extra five hours a week of manpower per vehicle through practical idleness) 2.6 million man-hours a year at around $15 per hour means $40 million more in labor costs each year.
But we’ll set that aside, along with other intangibles such as potentially narrowing the price gap as more EV models become available and allowing hybrid vehicles as part of the mix (as Edwards acknowledged) and stick with the $144 million extra. Assuming the fleet turns over every six years, that’s an extra taxpayer cost of $24 million annually to feed the climate alarmist fetish of Edwards and his ilk.
Of course, he has fewer than two years to start this process, and by his remarks the first year largely will set the stage for implementation. A new level-headed governor could stop this ideological invasion of state procurement by issuing orders making for a level playing field between EV and ICE purchase based on cost effectiveness including sticker price, which likely would allow purchase of EVs only in particular and uncommon situations.
Still, this exercise notes the power available to a chief executive willing to abuse taxpayer resources in the name of fulfilling an ideological imperative and should serve as a data point for voters vetting candidates for the state’s next governor.