Close to 400 people attended the recent EV Expo, hosted by the Chamber of Jefferson County. Attendees got a first-hand look at over a dozen different electric vehicles (EVs). The event was a great …
Close to 400 people attended the recent EV Expo, hosted by the Chamber of Jefferson County. Attendees got a first-hand look at over a dozen different electric vehicles (EVs). The event was a great opportunity to celebrate the new technology and to hear questions and concerns from the public about how EVs work, what they cost, and what their impacts are in the community and on the environment.
How far can they go?
Attendees of the EV Expo had many questions about EV “range,” or the distance a given vehicle can go with a full battery.
We are fortunate that the technology has been improving rapidly, and today both new and used EVs are available with ranges of more than 200 miles per charge. That is plenty for most commutes or errands, where you can charge at home and be ready to go the next morning.
Or you can utilize the 23 charging locations currently in Jefferson County -— the Plugshare app show maps with locations.
For planning a longer trip, my favorite app is A Better Route Planner, where you can put in the details of your vehicle and trip, and it will show options for where to charge, and how long it will take.
How much do they cost?
There are an increasing number of affordable options both used and new, such as the Nissan Leaf, that sells for under $30,000 after applying a $7,500 federal rebate. And compared with the fuel efficient Honda Accord, the Leaf still saves approximately $1,300 a year in fuel costs. That can help offset the initial cost difference and save you money in the long run, especially considering the lower maintenance cost of EVs.
Speaking of rebates, some folks were concerned about tax rebates going to those at higher income levels. Note that the upcoming federal tax rebate has limits on the maximum income that qualifies, and the state tax exemption only applies to cars costing under $45,000.
The upcoming federal rebates also include up to $4,000 in rebates for a used EV, and the state sales tax exemption applies up to $16,000 of the sales price of qualified used vehicles.
What about all those Rare Earth Minerals?
Concerns were also expressed related to batteries – mining of materials, disposal, etc.
A life-cycle assessment study on the contribution of Lithium Ion batteries to the environmental impact of EVs found that the impact of the battery is relatively small compared to the impacts from gasoline in a gas/diesel vehicle. And the overall environmental impact of EVs is especially low here, where 96 percent of our electricity comes from carbon-free sources.
For the Northwest as a whole, the Union of Concerned Scientists have found that the average EV has emissions equivalent to a gas car getting 107 miles per gallon. And for Jefferson PUD customers, where the electricity is approximately 24 times cleaner than for the Northwest in general, the number is much higher.
Coming soon: EV car share and fast chargers at the chamber
A collaboration of local and regional organizations were successful in partnering on a grant for a low- to moderate-income EV car share, which will be launching with two EVs in Port Townsend in early 2023!
We were also successful on a grant for DC fast chargers at the Chamber of Jefferson County in Port Townsend in 2023, which will be able to charge up to eight cars, and can fully charge most EVs in less than 30 minutes. (There will be a cost to charge.)
Research has shown EVs are a top opportunity to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, both locally and more broadly.
A 2020 study from Climate Solutions noted that the most cost effective and fast approach to reduce transportation emissions in the Northwest is to increase EVs while also reducing vehicle miles driven through other strategies.
That last part is important – reducing miles driven (by taking the bus, biking, combining or avoiding trips, etc.) is always the cleanest option!
You can learn more about electric vehicles, including local rebates, dealers, etc. at jeffersoncan.org/electric-vehicles.
(Cindy Jayne is part of the Local 20/20’s Steering Council and Climate group. Local 20/20 was a partner in the EV Expo, and is part of the Climate Action Committee’s EV Working Group.)