For the Herald-Standard
The rise of electric vehicles continues across the United States – and it’s a formidable rise. EV sales during the second quarter this year accounted for 5.6% of the total auto market, an increase from 2.7% during the first quarter of 2021.
That bump was among the focal points driven home Wednesday morning, during a webinar organized by Washington & Jefferson College’s Center for Energy Policy. Two Pennsylvania Department of Transportation officials, Colton Brown and Natasha Fackler, spoke virtually – and basically – about EVs, an industry with which a large segment of the population is still gaining familiarity.
There are three main types of electric vehicles: hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric and battery electric. They differ in driving range, cost of charging and/or refueling, and engineering and design.
During the hour-long session, Brown and Fackler expounded on the varieties; the state and federal incentives available to assist consumers with purchases; and federal funding geared toward constructing a national network of charging stations along major highways, allowing easier access to charge up during a lengthy commute.
Oh, and there are the environmental and economic benefits of owning an EV. While the initial outlay for an electric vehicle is comparatively high, the long-term cost is cost-effective. According to a Consumer Reports study in 2020, “owning an electric vehicle will save the typical driver $6,000 to $10,000” over its lifetime, compared with “owning a comparable gas-powered vehicle.”
“You will have two-thirds reduction of emissions than someone driving a gasoline-powered vehicle,” Brown said. “EVs cost less to maintain and make less noise.”
Fackler, an infrastructure implementation coordinator with PennDOT, said consumers can benefit from federal tax grants, DEP grants, PennDOT grants and utility programs.
Prospective buyers express concern about charging an electric vehicle, then finding a location to recharge during a lengthier commute. Most EV drivers, including those with all-electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, can charge overnight at home with AC Level 1 or AC Level 2 equipment.
“Filling up at a gas station is much different than charging,” said Brown, an EV manager for PennDOT who recently left a position with the state Department of Environmental Resources. “Charging an electric vehicle is a passive process. You can do it at home or while you work. You can go have a meal while powering.”
A rising number of EVs can travel more than 200 miles on a single charge. There also are more charging stations available to longer-distance commuters, with more being installed. And getting a charge on the road is more efficient with DC Fast stations, which can provide one in 20 to 30 minutes.
Brown said there are 2,400-plus public plugs at 1,200-plus locations across the state. Commuters can look them up at penndot.pa.gov/ev.
Pennsylvania EV drivers will benefit from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which President Joe Biden signed last November. The package includes $7.5 billion for states to increase accessibility to EV charging. The Keystone State will be getting $171.5 million through 2026 to help it to initially add stations every 50 miles along alternative fuel corridors on major highways.
CEPM’s next webinar will let the sun shine in. It’s titled “And on his farm he had ... a photovoltaic system? Where solar and farming meet.”
The free event, scheduled for 11 a.m. Dec. 7, will feature W&J graduate Michael Roth, director of Conservation and Innovation with the state Department of Agriculture, speaking about how the proper use of solar power can enhance development of farmland.
Agrivoltaics – a rising field also known as agrisolar or dual-use solar – is a lash-up of elements once dissuaded.
For more information, or to watch the video and slides from Wednesday’s event, visit wjenergy.org.