Year of the electric vehicle?

Posted 12/31/19

Sen. Jen Metzger has been in office a year now, and renewable energy has played a large role in her legislative agenda. Most recently, her legislation regarding electric vehicles was signed into law …

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Year of the electric vehicle?

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Sen. Jen Metzger has been in office a year now, and renewable energy has played a large role in her legislative agenda. Most recently, her legislation regarding electric vehicles was signed into law on December 20. It directs the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to look for areas across the state where there are not enough charging stations to support electric vehicles (EVs), and to create options on how to fill the void.

In a press release regarding the legislation, she notes that New York is not among the top 10 states in terms of EV ownership, and if the state want to reach its state emissions goals, there will have to be some two million EVs on the streets of New York by 2030. There are now fewer than 50,000 EVs out of a total of some 10 million registered vehicles.

“Electric vehicles are cheaper to maintain and operate than gas-powered vehicles and provide a huge opportunity for New York State to significantly reduce carbon emissions,” said Metzger, who drives a fully electric Chevy Bolt. “I’m thrilled that this bill will help the state take the necessary steps forward in increasing EV accessibility.”

There is also EV action at the county level. The 2020 budget for Sullivan County includes $10,000 to supplement a state grant to purchase and install electric-vehicle charging infrastructure across county properties, and the county is making what it calls a “strategic investment” in electric vehicles for the county fleet.

Support for EVs continues at the town level. The Town of Bethel acquired an EV this year, and installed charging stations to help both residents and tourists who come to the area. Also, more than a dozen businesses in the Upper Delaware Valley have installed the stations.

Some municipalities have gone much further. The City of Kingston this year completed the installation of a network of 29 charging stations that was approved by the city council in 2017 at a cost of about $800,000. The most powerful of the stations can charge a car in about an hour for $17.

Action at the federal level is not moving as quickly or even in the same direction. Many of the EVs sold in the U.S. come with a tax credit to the buyer of $75,000. But that credit is good only until the manufacturer reaches total sales of 200,000 EVs, then the tax credits are phased out. Tesla and General Motors (GM) have both reached that limit. This year, lawmakers in Washington were working on new legislation that would have allowed the buyers of Tesla and GM EVs to deduct $7,000 from their federal income taxes, but Congress left Washington, D.C. without passing it. So Telsa and GM this year will be competing against newcomers to the market with the full $7,500 credit.

On the political campaign trail, however, there is much more support for helping the EV market expand. The top five candidates vying to become the Democratic candidate for president all have positions that specifically endorse the role of EVs in the energy future of the U.S.

The push to move to EVs isn’t limited to the U.S. An article in The Guardian said the number of types of EVs available to the market will expand from fewer to 100 to 175 by the end of 2020.

“The new supply will cater to a rapidly expanding market as demand for petrol-powered vehicles gradually recedes. UK EV sales will rise from 3.4 percent of all vehicles sold in 2019 to 5.5 percent in 2020—or from 80,000 this year to 131,000 in 2020—according to forecasts from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. By 2026 electric vehicle sales will account for a fifth of sales in the UK, the forecasts show. Similar predictions from LMC Automotive suggest 540,000 electric cars will be sold across the EU in 2020, up from 319,000 over the course of 2019,” the article says.

While the trend lines are clear, the reasons for avoiding moving to an EV are quickly shifting. The range if the typical modern EV is 200 to 250 miles on a charge. Another question has been, if people are charging their cars with coal-generated electricity, what’s the environmental benefit? But coal-fired electricity is fading away.Ten years ago in the U.S., coal provided 50 percent of the nation’s electricity, that number is now down to 25 percent.

The move away from the internal combustion engine and toward EVs is well underway, and our elected officials should help it along whenever possible.

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