Photo of 2013 Chevrolet Volt courtesy of GM.

Photo of 2013 Chevrolet Volt courtesy of GM.

Minnesota's Gov. Mark Dayton has signed into law a bill making it easier for the state's fleet manager to purchase alternative-fuel vehicles by allowing purchasing decisions based on total operating costs rather than initial cost.

The new law, which was approved on May 18, goes into effect on Aug. 1. It removes state barriers to the higher purchase price of alt-fuel vehicles, said Paul Hanson, CAFM, director of fleet and surplus services for the Minnesota Department of Administration.

"We anticipate that with this legislation, we will first see an increase in the plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles," Hanson told Government Fleet. "As the fueling infrastructure grows, we may see the addition of some CNG vehicles."

About 94% of the state Dept. of Administration's 1,714 vehicles are "green" vehicles, consisting of 1,584 flex-fuel vehicles, 22 hybrids, two plug-in hybrids, and three electric vehicles.

The state contract currently includes the Ford Focus EV, the C-Max Energi, the Fusion Energi, and the Chevrolet Volt. The department purchases CNG vehicles from another contract. Hanson has asked the procurement division to add a broader selection of electric-and plug-in hybrid vehicles to the contract, and the division is currently working on doing so.

The Minnesota fleet has been increasing its E-85 use for several years.

As part of his work on the bill, Hanson worked closely with the bill's sponsors — state Sen. John Hoffman and House Rep. Pat Garofalo. He also fielded questions in legislative hearing committees about the topic.