Vermont joins zero emission vehicle action plan

-A A +A

Vermont joins zero emission vehicle action plan

Thu, 05/29/2014 - 12:57pm -- tim

by Timothy McQuiston Vermont Bsuiness Magazine Governors from eight states, including Vermont, today announced a groundbreaking initiative to put 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on the roads in their states within a dozen years. These governors have joined forces to revolutionize the automobile market by promoting zero-emission vehicles. The use of these clean vehicles will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality and public health, enhance energy diversity, save consumers money, and promote economic growth. Zero-emission vehicles include battery-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel-cell-electric vehicles. These technologies can be used in passenger cars, trucks and transit buses.

“This collaboration is about partnerships," said Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin. "The signatory states and our neighbors are already coordinating to ensure a viable regional infrastructure for electric cars through programs such as the Transportation Climate Initiative in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region and the West Coast Electric Highway. The states are committed to working with the automakers, refueling infrastructure suppliers, the electric utilities and other partners to ensure the success of zero-emission vehicle programs from all of our perspectives.”

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Deb Markowitz said during a national teleconference announcing the initiative Thursday that Vermont would put EV charging stations at the park-and-rides as well as seek out private locations and offer state incentives. The state will also boost its own fleet of EVs. Markowitz mentioned that the campaign to promote the sale of plug-in electric hybrid vehicles by the Lamoille Valley/Twin State Ford (Hardwick and St Johnsbury) dealership recorded the second highest volume for a Ford dealership in the country in sales of hybrid electric vehicles in 2013. The dealership won the Governor's Environmental Award this year.

"If it can be done in Hardwick and St Johnsbury, it can be done everywhere," she said.

The federal tax credit for EVs is equal to $2,500 plus, for a vehicle which draws propulsion energy from a battery with at least 5 kilowatt hours of capacity, $417, plus an additional $417 for each kilowatt hour of battery capacity in excess of 5 kilowatt hours. The total amount of the credit allowed for a vehicle is limited to $7,500.

Clearing a path

This multi-state effort is intended to expand consumer awareness and demand for zero-emission vehicles. As a first step in this plan, the governors of California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont signed a cooperative agreement. In this agreement, the governors identify specific actions they will promote within their states and joint cooperative actions these states will undertake to help build a robust national market for electric and hydrogen-powered cars.

For example, the governors agreed to pursue the following efforts:

  • Harmonize building codes to make it easier to construct new electric car charging stations
  • Lead by example by including zero emission vehicles in their public fleets
  • Evaluate and establish, where appropriate, financial and other incentives to promote zero emission vehicles
  • Consider establishing favorable electricity rates for home charging systems; and
  • Develop common standards for roadway signs and charging networks.

The eight states will develop an action plan over the next six months that will include many of these strategies and others.

Creating a market
These states are among a group of states which have adopted rules requiring about 15 percent of new vehicles sold to be zero-emission vehicles by 2025. Collectively, the eight signatory states represent more than 23 percent of the U.S. car market, and expect to have at least 3.3 million of these vehicles operating on their roadways by that time.

The market demand created by these state programs can help lower zero-emission vehicle costs through economies of scale and expand the range of product lines available to consumers.

The cars are here now
U.S. electric car sales in 2012 more than tripled to about 52,000 from 17,000 in 2011.  Motorists bought more than 40,000 plug-in cars in the first and second quarters of 2013.

There are currently 16 zero-emission vehicle models available from eight automotive manufacturers; nine run completely on batteries, two on hydrogen fuel cells and five are plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that can run on gasoline as well as battery power. The number of models is expected to increase for model year 2014 and beyond. Several electric vehicle models have won awards for safety, performance and customer satisfaction over the past couple of years.

There are already more than 6,700 charging stations open to the public in the signatory states. By 2015 nearly every major automaker will have zero emission vehicles available for sale or lease, and more than 200,000 zero-emission vehicles are expected to be on the road across the U.S.

A healthier environment and economy
These clean vehicles will provide a major foothold in the battle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and their consequences, which include sea level rise, increases in extreme weather, and wildfire intensity.

There are economic advantages as well. Electricity is the most widely available source of power and typically costs about two-thirds less than gasoline on a per-mile basis. By 2025, the average zero-emission vehicle driver will save nearly $6,000 in fueling costs over the life of the car.

Just in California, data provided by the state Community Colleges shows 46,000 businesses now related to advanced transportation, and nearly 600,000 jobs in that field. These include jobs building and servicing vehicles and infrastructure.

The cooperative agreement, or “Memorandum of Understanding,” is available at:

arb.ca.gov/newsrel/2013/8s_zev_mou.pdf

Eight Governors on the importance of the Zero Emission Vehicle MOU:

California: "This is not just an agreement, but a serious and profoundly important commitment," said California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. "From coast to coast, we're charging ahead to get millions of the world's cleanest vehicles on our roads."

Connecticut: Governor Dannel P. Malloy said, “This initiative is consistent with Connecticut’s Comprehensive Energy Strategy and our focus on providing cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable power for our residents and businesses.  As part of that strategy we are working in the transportation sector to encourage the use of alternative fuels and alternative vehicles.  In keeping with that approach, we launched a grant program to speed construction of 200 publically available electric vehicle charging stations by early 2014 – which will end ‘range anxiety’ in our state and increase public interest in owning zero-emission vehicles.”

Maryland: "We are excited to be collaborating with other states to ensure the success of our zero-emission vehicle programs. This effort complements work already underway through the Transportation Climate Initiative, in which Maryland and other East Coast states are working to develop a robust charging station network along the I-95 corridor that will permit long-distance travel in electric cars throughout the region. The transition to these advanced technology vehicles will support our efforts to achieve our air quality and climate change goals, and will enhance energy security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil,” said Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. “This is a critical part of our efforts to achieve Maryland’s long-term 2050 goal to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions 90 percent from 2006 levels.”

Massachusetts: “Increasing electric vehicles in our fleet is a critical component of our efforts in Massachusetts to address air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector and grow the clean energy economy,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “Diversifying transportation fuels and providing drivers with options will help reduce vulnerability to price swings in imported oil that hurt consumers and our economy.”

New York: “This agreement is a major step forward to reducing the emissions that are causing our climate to change and unleashing the extreme weather that we are experiencing with increased frequency,” said Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.  “This collaboration builds on New York’s Charge NY initiative, which is creating a statewide network of 3,000 charging stations by 2018 and will provide New Yorkers with a convenient and affordable alternative to increasingly expensive gasoline and diesel.”

Oregon: “This initiative will help states reduce transportation-related air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, enhance energy diversity, save consumers money, and promote economic growth,” said Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber. “It also directly supports Oregon’s 10-Year Energy Action Plan and will spur innovation that helps us to meet our goals.”

Rhode Island: “Rhode Island has already started taking steps and one includes the installation of charging stations throughout the state. We are determined to develop a clean and efficient transportation infrastructure for the future,” Governor Lincoln D. Chafee said. “Through the Zero Emission Vehicle MOU, we have created a vital partnership that will reduce our reliance on imported oil, boost our economy, and save money at the pump. This is an important collaboration that works toward our common goal of protecting our environment.”

Global Automakers also issued a statement applauding the governors of eight states, including Vermont, who today released a Regional Action Plan focused on building a market for zero emission vehicles (ZEVs). "We have a long road ahead to arrive at the Governors' ambitious goal to sell 3.3 million ZEVs by 2025," said John Bozzella, President and CEO of Global Automakers. "Everyone has a role to play in building a robust market for battery electric and hydrogen-powered cars, and we are pleased that the Regional Action Plan recognizes the states' role in this process."

The Regional Action Plan is only the first step for the states in meeting their commitments under the October 2013 Memorandum of Understanding. These states also are working on their own action plans to address unique market challenges to the sale of ZEVs, such as consumer preferences, incentives, codes and standards, fueling/charging infrastructure, weather and topography.

"Automakers are committed to the success of ZEV technology and have invested billions of dollars in the development and deployment of these vehicles," said Bozzella. "However, consumers are ultimately in the driver's seat. So preparing the market by addressing challenges and assessing state's progress is critical to meeting the ultimate goal of increased consumer acceptance of ZEVs."

The Association of Global Automakers represents international motor vehicle manufacturers, original equipment suppliers, and other automotive-related trade associations.  We work with industry leaders, legislators, and regulators to create the kind of public policy that improves vehicle safety, encourages technological innovation, and protects our planet. Our goal is to foster a competitive environment in which more vehicles are designed and built to enhance Americans' quality of life. For more information, visit www.globalautomakers.org.

The eight states are California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

PHOTO: GMP launches an EV charging station at Heathy Living in South Burlington in 2011. VBM file photos.

WASHINGTON, May 29, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire. Vermont Business Magazine.