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HomeCommunityEnvironmentDitching the Pump for the Plug: GVI Ramps up Transportation Electrification Initiatives

Ditching the Pump for the Plug: GVI Ramps up Transportation Electrification Initiatives

A fleet of electric vehicles from around the territory assemble for the Earth Day Electric Vehicle Rally in 2021. (Source photo by Bethaney Lee)

The Virgin Islands Energy Office (VIEO) has executed a first of its kind multi-agency bulk procurement of over 20 fully electric vehicles with the expectation of delivery in mid-May of this year.

“This procurement marks a significant milestone in electric vehicle supply chain access, which is a key barrier to the transportation electrification journey in the Virgin Islands,” said Kyle Fleming, VIEO director.

Currently, Drive Green VI is the only dealership in the territory that sells and services electric vehicles The Government of the Virgin Islands (GVI) has previously leveraged the local supply chain to procure Nissan Leafs for the VIEO, and recently Government House on both islands has added two Leafs to their fleet, as well.

Additionally, The VIEO is also preparing to launch a dedicated Electric Vehicle Rebate program to further support local investment in electric vehicles by reducing the upfront cost barriers to consumers and small businesses.

Follow the VIEO Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VIEnergyOffice for announcements relative to program launch.

“This is just the beginning, as the VIEO is also preparing to leverage a windfall of infrastructure bill funds later this year to further bolster the EV transition throughout the territory,” Fleming said.

Over the last three years, the VIEO and WAPA have sought out and been awarded over $2 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Interior to enable procurements that will catalyze the electrification of the government fleet vehicles and provide a robust network of strategically located charging stations. These stations will allow for refueling of public and private electric vehicles independent of traditional gas station fuel pumps and their soaring prices.

Parallel with the vehicle procurement, the VIEO and WAPA are in the advanced stages of deploying an expansive Electric Vehicle Charging Station network that seeks to deploy over 100 charging stations across the territory. With charging station locations identified at high traffic destinations spanning from Frederiksted to Cramer’s Park on St. Croix and from Bordeaux to Coral Bay across St. Thomas and St. John. The goal is to provide charging station coverage across the islands to eliminate recharging apprehensions relative to electric vehicle adoption in the territory.

“Transportation electrification is a primary conduit to energy resiliency in the Virgin Islands, and the territory is well suited to leverage the rapidly developing technology and infrastructure within the industry. As a remote island nation, reducing the dependence of imported and volatile fossil fuels is critical to bolstering economic and societal sustainability,” Fleming said.

In recent months, mobilization of these awarded federal funds has been a critical priority. Gas prices are expected to continue to rise with the national average over $4.00 per gallon for much of 2022. The Virgin Islands remote island location increases our exposure to the risks of the volatile fuel commodity market both through the cost of the raw material and the logistics cost to deliver it to our shores.

With prices nearing $4.50 per gallon on St. Croix and $6.00 per gallon on St. Thomas and St. John, the real-world effects of being beholden to a singular commodity to meet our transportation needs have already taken form. Ultimately, the V.I. will never be able influence global commodity markets; however, overtime, the V.I. can control its exposure to the negative impacts of its volatility by electrifying our transportation sector through the adoption of electric vehicles.

Under the Bryan/Roach Administration, the Virgin Islands Energy Office, Department of Property and Procurement, and the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority have been strategically preparing the V.I. for a sustainable transportation transformation, and the recent surges in fuel cost have further emphasized the need to expedite this transition.

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