The investment was approved at a meeting of the authority’s cabinet which heard that the cash will come from a reserve fund established at the end of the last financial year to help bolster County Hall’s green credentials.
The county council has already taken delivery of three electric vans whose use has been trialled by different departments to determine which service areas are most suited to them.
Meanwhile, a dozen electric cars have been procured for the authority’s parking enforcement patrols, which have been brought back under its direct control this month after previously being outsourced.
More battery-powered vehicles could soon be en route to the county after cabinet members gave the green light to the green investment – with the highways service expected to be next in line for them.
The meeting heard that the county council already obtains its electricity from renewable sources – creating a double-whammy of environmental benefits if that energy is now used to power some of the authority’s much-travelled fleet.
The charging infrastructure – which accounts for a third of the £3m investment – will be installed at council facilities where the early adopters of electric vehicles are based.
Cabinet member for the environment and climate change Shaun Turner – himself an electric car driver – said that the move “underscores our commitment to net-zero carbon emissions and…to zero tailpipe emissions”.
Addressing the timing of the decision, he denied that the authority had been slow to start the shift to electric vehicles, explaining that the council had been waiting for models to come onto the market that could “satisfy our service need [and] could travel far enough”.
County Hall has also recently been trailing battery-operated maintenance equipment including hedge cutters and chainsaws.
Speaking after the meeting, County Cllr Turner added: “Our fleet services team has been working for some time to look at where we could use electric vehicles in the delivery of services – and while earlier models had too many limitations, there are now far more options on the market, which, most importantly, can go further between charges.
“With our current parking enforcement contract coming to an end, this team will come in-house from September, giving us the opportunity to equip them with electric vehicles to reduce the emissions created as they drive around the county.
“Investing in the charging infrastructure at our depots and offices to support them will also leave us well-placed to expand our use of electric vehicles in the future.”