OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – The first fully electric vehicle quietly pulled into a parking space in Oak Ridge last week.
The new addition to the site is part of a broader transition to an electric vehicle fleet across the EM complex. The cleanup program aims to add 150 electric vehicles to its fleet this year.
Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) cleanup contractor UCOR is slated to receive 11 of the vehicles in the first phase of the effort.
An important component of OREM’s integrated sustainability program, electric vehicles will be delivered as they become available through the U.S. General Services Administration and steadily replace the existing inventory.
“We are committed to transitioning all of our vehicle fleet to electric vehicles as they are available,” said UCOR President and CEO Ken Rueter. “Our goal is to be a business leader in the electric vehicle initiative and achieve sustainability goals of fleet electrification to reduce emissions.”
Transitioning the Oak Ridge fleet is estimated to avoid up to 320 metric tons in annual carbon emissions and $50,000 in fuel costs each year based on the national average cost of gas and electricity.
UCOR is also the first DOE contractor in Oak Ridge to participate in the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Electric Vehicle Fleet Advisory Program, which supports the shift to electric vehicles and associated charging infrastructure.
“Partnerships are critical to achieving the federal government’s goal of 100% zero-emissions vehicles by 2035, including 100% zero-emissions light-duty acquisitions by 2027,” said UCOR Program and Sustainability Management Manager Ashley Saunders.
The latest initiative is part of a long-running focus on sustainability for the Oak Ridge Reservation.
“Electric vehicles are an important step for us,” OREM Manager Jay Mullis said. “We’re also continuing to work with our staff and contractors to identify other opportunities to maximize sustainability efforts locally.”
As a part of a brownfields-to-brightfields initiative, UCOR worked with subcontractor RSI to deploy three solar arrays at Oak Ridge’s East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP), providing 1.2 megawatts of renewable power to the grid.
UCOR and RSI also led the Powerhouse Six project, a utility-scale, 1-megawatt solar facility development capable of generating enough electricity to power 133 average-size homes annually and offset greenhouse gas emissions equal to more than 200 passenger vehicles per year. This successful project played a key role in ETTP’s selection as a Federal Green Challenge award winner.
“Our team’s commitment to making renewable energy a reality can be seen through the success we’ve achieved with solar generating facilities at ETTP,” says Saunders. “It’s exciting to see RSI turn land that has limited future use into productive sites for renewable energy.”
Supporting sustainability through technology, UCOR has also installed devices in all fleet vehicles to track fuel consumption, diagnostics and idling time data to help lower the fleet’s environmental impact and support safe vehicle operations.
The opportunities for improvement aren’t stopping with fleet vehicles. OREM, in partnership with UCOR, is pursuing a transition to low-speed electric vehicles and zero-emissions heavy equipment for its environmental remediation mission, as those vehicles become commercially available.