We must ensure that charging capacity is equitable
Re “Short circuit: Too few charging stations, weak incentives, and erratic funding have left Massachusetts far behind in its goal for electric vehicles” by Sabrina Shankman and Taylor Dolven (Page A1, April 10): As we work to increase the quantity of electric cars and chargers, we cannot forget to prioritize the equity of that system as well, so that everyone can both afford and charge their electric vehicles. Lower-income communities see less investment in public charging infrastructure than wealthier ones. Much of our existing charging capacity is in single-family housing, where there is space to plug in a car. But with 40 percent of Americans living in multifamily housing, many drivers who reside in apartments are left with limited to no access to EV charging.
We risk a transportation revolution that leaves too many on the side of the road unless we prioritize public-charging investments in dense communities. That’s why I introduced legislation that would improve community engagement and provide disadvantaged communities with funding to install EV charging. I also worked to secure language in the recent appropriations bill to prioritize charging efforts in disadvantaged communities through the $2.5 billion in funding for community electric and alternative vehicle infrastructure that was passed in last year’s Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act.
Without a community-centered led approach to charging electric vehicles, we put both our transportation emissions and equity goals at risk. But with smart collaboration and more designated funding, we can drive into a healthier and fairer future for all.
Senator Edward J. Markey
Region’s high electricity costs are a factor
Concerning the article “Short circuit,” there is an important issue the authors neglected to mention. Massachusetts specifically and New England in general have about the most expensive retail electricity in the country — currently more than 24 cents per kilowatt hour for much of Eastern Massachusetts. Now, why that is the case is another story, but it is a fact. What’s more, that price is based on electricity that is nearly all carbon-based (primarily from natural gas). Moving the electricity mix toward non-carbon sources is critical for the climate, but it may not result in lowering household electric bills. So electric vehicles move the consumer from gas that is expensive for the time being to electricity that is very expensive now and may become increasingly so in the future. That may be good for the environment, but it may not be perceived as good for consumers.
Containing retail electricity costs while moving to carbon-free sources is a critical part of the picture.
Inexpensive, renewable electricity will be key
Missing from the debate to convert from fossil fuels to electric is this question: What steps have to be taken to ensure that the huge increase in electric demand is supplied, solely, by inexpensive, renewable electricity?
The writer is the former chair of the Hull Municipal Light Board and a retired power plant engineer.
Don’t overlook efforts to address funding challenges
The article by Sabrina Shankman and Taylor Dolven aptly describes the challenges Massachusetts faces fulfilling the goals set by the roadmap legislation that aims to spur adoption of electric cars. We face many difficulties, and our state has set helpful goals, but we have fallen short of providing adequate income streams for these essential changes.
Fortunately, a bill under consideration in the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy, the Green Future Act, provides a viable and equitable funding plan to meet these needs. Any discussion of how we address the growing climate crisis must include close examination of funding details, so omitting mention of this legislation is a serious oversite. I hope that the Globe will follow the discussion and negotiations in the committee closely and report on this issue.
She was ready to make move to electric vehicle. Just one problem — she couldn’t find one
Perhaps it’s my New England frugality, but I am not going to throw away a functioning gas-powered car simply to buy electric. However, I have committed, psychologically and financially, to making my next car an electric one.
I had a chance last month when the transmission went on my current car (162,000 miles). A no-brainer, right? Wrong. There are no electric vehicles readily available. So, my mechanic found a used transmission, and I’m good to go for another couple of years.
All of the points in last Sunday’s article about rebate problems and charging stations are valid, but manufacturers need to be given incentives, or a mandate, to make a lot more electric cars if this is going to work.
Plug-in hybrids would make an impact
I own a plug-in hybrid, and like it very much. If I am careful about charging, I can go more than a month without buying gas. This means I must charge my vehicle when the battery is low, maybe four or five times a week.
Since most of the trips people take are under 30 miles, which is the approximate limit of my car before gas is burned, there is basically no gas being burned most of the time.
I feel the Globe missed an opportunity to emphasize the enormous reduction in gas demand we would see if people used plug-in hybrid vehicles, at least for the next five or 10 years. And these cars are relatively affordable with the tax breaks and incentives now offered.
Electric vehicles’ poor cold-weather performance is a problem
In the article “Short circuit,” the reasons for the low adoption of battery electric vehicles were given as a lack of charging stations, weak incentives, and erratic funding. None of these figured in my recent decision to buy the gas-powered Hyundai Kona instead of the electric. What mattered to me was the poor cold weather performance of battery electric vehicles.
As AAA has shown, the average driving range of electric vehicles may drop by 40 percent in sub-freezing weather. Charging times rise as well. Just as molasses flows slower in winter, so do electrons in an electrolyte. This is why in cold, hilly New England, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles will prove a more popular choice.
Since most trips are relatively short, people could do most of their driving electrically. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles could, if widely adopted, cut private transportation emissions considerably.
The state wants only zero-emission vehicles sold in 2035. This is unworkable for the colder, hillier western part of the state. May I suggest a modification? Any plug-in hybrid vehicle that gets, say, 25 miles of electric range should be considered a zero-emission vehicle. Three-quarters of a loaf is better than none.