Here on Martha’s Vineyard, the electric vehicle (EV) revolution is in full swing. With towns on-Island already working toward building EV charging stations and switching over their municipal vehicle fleets to all-electric, and the Vineyard Transit Authority well on its way to electrifying its buses, it’s clear that momentum is building around these initiatives.
But the Island is far from the only locality working toward greening its transportation sector.
During a webinar hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday that saw more than 200 participants, several environmental organizations presented on the new AchiEVe Toolkit — a comprehensive list of current national policies that model the myriad ways in which states and local communities can work toward green transit.
Released by Sierra Club, Plug In America, the Electrification Coalition, and Forth Mobility, this is the fourth edition of the toolkit, originally released in 2017, which includes new information on direct sales legislation for passenger vehicles, best EV practices for dealerships, policies targeting businesses and how they can electrify, and policies for electrifying medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.
Katherine Stainken, policy director for Plug in America, said based on market growth and the need to address climate issues, “we know the future of transportation is electric.”
As battery prices come down below $100 per kilowatt-hour, a price parity will be reached with gas cars, and the demand for EVs will expand even more.
When one factors in the savings to the consumer, including lower maintenance costs and significant fuel savings, Stainken said, it is clear that EVs are a better long-term investment for any individual, business, or municipality.
She added that General Motors recently announced its commitment to electrify its vehicle fleet by 2035. Meanwhile, the Biden administration is planning on electrifying the entire U.S. government fleet of roughly 650,000 vehicles.
With so many major paradigm shifts away from fossil fuels, Stainken said, now is the time for individuals, groups, businesses, and state and local governments to make the switch as well.
Hieu Le, representative for the Sierra Club’s Clean Transportation for All campaign, noted that the transportation sector is the largest contributor of emissions in the U.S., and the World Health Organization has deemed air pollution a global public health crisis. By electrifying our transportation sector, he said, the public health and economic benefits America could see by 2050 would be significant.
According to a report by the American Lung Association, more than 6,000 premature deaths, 93,000 asthma attacks, and 416,000 lost workdays could be avoided annually, compared with business as usual, if we shift over to EVs.
In terms of dollars, that amounts to $72 billion in health benefits, and $113 billion in climate benefits.
The nation would also save 1 million tons of emissions pollution in 2050, which represents an 82 percent reduction compared with business as usual.
Some specific policies being implemented to encourage and enable EV purchase for consumers are creating rebates and tax credits for those who buy EVs, along with used EV incentives, so people who aren’t in the new vehicle market can also have access.
In Florida, one policy from the Orlando Utilities Commission provides rebates of $200 to residential customers who purchase or lease an eligible new or used EV.
Additionally, in New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Electric Co-Op offers rebates of $1,000 for the purchase or lease of new or used battery electric vehicles, and $600 for new or used plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
Sue Gander and Andrew Linhardt of the Electrification Coalition presented ways that transit agencies, governors’ offices, cities, and local governments are working together to galvanize mass adoption of electric vehicle policies.
In the state of Washington, all state agency–owned vehicles are required to use 100 percent biofuels or electricity (to the greatest possible extent), and must prioritize EVs for new procurements.
Along with encouraging municipal transit authorities to electrify, there are many policies to support schools in changing their diesel or gas school buses over to fully electric.
For example, major power and energy provider Dominion Energy is partnering with the state of Virginia to provide financial assistance to school districts to offset the costs of all-electric school buses. The initial phase will begin with 50 buses, and phase two will expand to a total of 1,000 buses by 2025.
And in order to support the massive amount of EVs that are likely to flood the market in the near future, policies to increase charging infrastructure are equally important to achieve a green transportation sector.
In Lancaster, Calif., the BLVD Streetlight EV charging project integrates charging stations into five streetlights along a popular downtown boulevard, and in Illinois, it is unlawful for a nonelectric vehicle to park in an EV charging station parking spot.
The AchiEVe Toolkit offers a broad range of policy models that communities like Martha’s Vineyard can work toward in the gradual switch to all-electric vehicles.
View the toolkit here.