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Updated: November 11, 2019

CT sets ambitious plan to put 500K electric vehicles on the road by 2030

Photo | HBJ File Billy Genereux, general sales manager of Hoffman Ford Lincoln, sits behind the wheel of a Ford Fusion Energi electric vehicle.

Connecticut is well behind its pledge to put 150,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2025, but instead of pumping the breaks on its environmentally conscious goal, state policymakers are shifting into high gear.

In a new draft report, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) now says it wants 500,000 electric vehicles on Connecticut roadways by 2030.

For perspective, only 11,000 electric vehicles are currently registered in the state.

Absent major reforms, including significantly more funding for charging infrastructure and rebate incentives, DEEP doesn’t actually think the state will meet the new benchmark. But the agency says Connecticut must get there if policymakers want to meet the state’s legally binding greenhouse-gas reduction targets over the next three decades.

Auto dealers, while they want to sell more cars, are also skeptical. Electric-vehicle market share is growing, but still only represents 2 percent of the cars on Connecticut roadways. That is a long way off from the more than 50 percent market share that would be needed to reach the proposed 2030 target.

The situation reflects the significant challenges Connecticut faces in meeting its ambitious environmental agenda, which has been driven by concerns over climate change and a need to improve air quality that is negatively affected by pollution from other states.

Some background

The electric-car push isn’t new.

Connecticut, California and six other states in 2013 announced a memorandum of understanding, or MOU, under which they collectively pledged to put 3.3 million zero-emissions vehicles, or ZEVS, on their roads by 2025.

ZEVs include plug-in hybrid, battery and fuel-cell electric vehicles.

Connecticut’s portion of the collective target is estimated at somewhere between 125,000 and 150,000 electric cars.

The new 500,000 EV target was born out of a need to meet more aggressive clean-energy goals adopted by state lawmakers last year. The law mandates Connecticut to reduce overall emissions 45 percent below 2001 levels by 2030. Significantly scaling back motor-vehicle emissions, which account for 36 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions in the state, is crucial to that effort.

However, Connecticut is only about 7.3 percent to its 2025 goal, leaving plenty of doubts the state can make up enough ground.

Multiple factors have hampered EV adoption so far, including:

• EV car prices, which remain relatively high, though they’ve been declining and are further helped by state incentives;

• Consumer concerns about the range of the vehicles before they need a charge;

• And lack of access to chargers in certain areas.

“We have these goals that, frankly, we’re not hitting,” said Amy McLean Salls, Connecticut director at the nonprofit Acadia Center, a clean-energy advocate. “We’re behind.”

James Fleming, executive director of the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association, said he also worries the state’s target is too lofty.

DEEP claims it will be within “striking distance” of the 2025 goal, but that sales are expected to flatline after that, which would imperil the 2030 target unless major legislative changes take effect.

That includes boosting incentives to entice more consumers to purchase EVs.

“We’re seeing that incentives are what moves the consumer,” said Tracy Babbidge, DEEP’s bureau chief for energy and technology policy.

One thing that could help is the legislature’s recent authorization of a five-year, $15-million revenue stream to fund the state’s so-called CHEAPR EV rebate program, which offsets car prices by a few thousand dollars.

That program has doled out more than $10 million since 2015, and when the new funding kicks in next year, used EV purchases will qualify for the first time.

Fleming says that’s “going to convince more and more consumers that they can buy EVs.”

Another recent state law that could help requires the state-owned vehicle fleet to be 50 percent electric by 2030.

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) is launching a major review of how those new policies will impact EV adoption.

PURA Chairman Marissa Gillett said her agency will also be thinking about what an EV ramp-up could mean for electric-grid demand.

“We’re trying to create policies that move the ball toward achieving our [environmental] goals,” Gillett said. “I think ZEVs are absolutely going to be central to that.”

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November 11, 2019

Why not look into the feasibility of EV loans through the Green Bank that does solar loans? I financed my PV solar system using a Smart-E loan at 1% for 144 months. Heck, make a loan package for 4 panels (guessing how many needed to offset the charging of the EV) and the EV at 1% for 144 months. You will get people jumping at that option.

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