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State to buy electric, hybrid vehicles

SANTA FE – New Mexico state government’s vehicle fleet will soon get a touch of green.

The state agency that oversees the roughly 2,000-vehicle fleet recently entered a price agreement with several car dealerships that paves the way for the state’s first purchase of electric and hybrid vehicles.

A budget bill signed into law this year by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham authorized $1 million for the purchase of the electric vehicles, while the General Services Department plans to use part of a separate $2.5 million budget appropriation to purchase hybrid sedans.

The electric vehicle initiative is one of several steps the Lujan Grisham administration is taking to address climate change – while still reaping the benefits of an ongoing oil drilling boom in southeast New Mexico.

“Vehicles are a major source of greenhouse gases,” General Services Secretary Ken Ortiz said in a Monday statement. “By transitioning to zero and low-emission vehicles, state and local governments will be taking a major step in the fight against climate change.”

The General Services Department recently entered the price agreement with six dealerships around New Mexico. The deal sets the price per vehicle – such as $28,366 for a Chevrolet Bolt – and is valid for one year, though it could be extended.

Under the terms of the price agreement, it’s not stipulated precisely how many electric or hybrid vehicles the state will purchase, though the $1 million appropriation would likely pay for 30 to 40 vehicles based on the established prices.

General Services Department spokesman Thom Cole said the agency also plans to request additional funding in next year’s 30-day legislative session to purchase more vehicles.

The state is still developing a plan for installing charging stations for the electric vehicles and determining which state employees will be able to use them, Cole said.

There are now only 51 electric vehicle charging stations open to the public in New Mexico, mostly in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, according to the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

Meanwhile, the overall size of New Mexico’s fleet of state-owned vehicles has declined in recent years, as old vehicles have been auctioned off or donated.

In addition, then-Gov. Susana Martinez implemented a moratorium on all vehicle purchases, with the exception of law enforcement vehicles, as a cost-cutting move when she took office in 2011.

The statewide motor pool operated by the General Services Department is intended to provide vehicles for state workers who need them to carry out their jobs.

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