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DEP Unveils Plan to Increase Electric Vehicle Use in Pennsylvania

Thursday, February 14, 2019 @ 12:02 AM

Posted by Joanne Bauer

electric drive aaaHARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvania could gain almost $2.8 billion in benefits from lower greenhouse gas emissions, help reduce respiratory disease, increase consumer savings, and create jobs if just three in 10 vehicles were electric, according to a plan released by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). 

“Interest in electric vehicles is increasing, but until now there’s been no statewide plan to foster a cohesive approach,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “We developed research-based strategies for government and private planning and policy decisions to help increase the opportunities and benefits of electric vehicles across the state.”

Led by DEP, a coalition of public and private partners called Drive Electric PA analyzed barriers to electric vehicle use. They developed Pennsylvania’s Electric Vehicle Roadmap, recommending 13 strategies to increase use of these zero-emission vehicles.

Partners include PennDOT; the Pennsylvania Departments of General Services and Conservation and Natural Resources; the Public Utility and Turnpike Commissions; and about 100 industry, business, community, and academic partners.

Transportation generates 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Pennsylvania, according to DEP’s draft 2018 Greenhouse Gas Inventory. Governor Wolf’s Executive Order on climate change requires that 25 percent of state government passenger cars be replaced with electric vehicles by 2025. A few cities, such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and organizations are working to expand electric vehicle use locally. Increasing numbers of residents, businesses, and organizations are applying to DEP rebate programs for electric vehicles or charging stations. For example, in the past two years, Pennsylvania residents have received more than $3.3 million in rebates for 2,135 electric vehicles.

Still, there are only about 15,000 electric vehicles in the state, a fraction of the approximately eight million passenger cars registered.

By 2023, an electric vehicle will emit 50 percent less greenhouse gas than a gasoline-powered car, according to Pennsylvania’s Electric Vehicle Roadmap. The plan projects that if three in 10 cars and light-duty trucks were electric by 2033, Pennsylvania could enjoy almost $2.8 billion in benefits. Asthma and other respiratory disease related to air pollution would be lower. Jobs in electric vehicle manufacturing and infrastructure would be created. Consumers would save money through fuel efficiency and less maintenance. Utility ratepayers would have lower costs from improved efficiency in the electric grid.

But public knowledge of the benefits of electric vehicles is low. People are uncertain about the availability of charging stations and mileage range. Up-front cost may be high. There’s currently no statewide policy to increase adoption.

The Electric Vehicle Roadmap identifies seven strategies to start to overcome these barriers in just two years:

• Develop policy or legislation to encourage utilities to invest in transportation electrification and leverage their expertise and consumer relationships to improve the electric market in a way that maximizes benefits to ratepayers and society.

• Establish statewide electric sales goals.

• Expand DEP’s Alternative Fuel Investment Grants program for municipalities, businesses, and organizations.

• Increase investment in charging stations and public awareness of them.

• Create an education program and a cooperative program to support fleet purchases.

• Develop a consumer education campaign.

• Develop an outreach program to raise awareness of electric vehicles among car dealerships.

The plan recommends six other strategies for five years and beyond. Coalition members are now collaborating on potential ways to put the strategies in place.

Pennsylvania’s Electric Vehicle Roadmap was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, under State Energy Program Award Number DE EE0006994 through contract with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

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