4 model communities for electric vehicles

When it comes to best practices for supporting electric vehicle adoption, some cities and states are ahead of the pack.

I love that phrase, "it takes a village to raise a child," because it really applies to so many other concepts in life and business. Apparently, we should include electric vehicles in that mix, if you buy into a new report from the Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA). That analysis suggests the extent to which specific communities support electric transportation alternatives-- whether they are urban, suburban, rural or otherwise -- plays a large role in adoption and acceptance of electric vehicles. It definitely makes sense to me.

So, which communities are doing it right?

The EDTA identifies four places that might serve as models for state or local-level projects that inspire adoption of electric vehicles beyond just as household or two. No, not all of the communities are in California, although I was surprised to find that none of the programs in the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic regions of the country made the cut.

The EDTA's examples include (in alphabetical order):

  • Austin, where the Austin Energy utility company has worked to create a 103-location charging station network that is powered by renewable energy (the GreenChoice program) Austin Energy offers a swipe card that allows for unlimited charging across the network or you can use your own credit card ($2 per hour of charging). Austin Energy paid rebates of $2,500 to the station hosts, private and public, that agreed to make Level 2 (220/240 volt) charging stations available. The network is called Plug-In EVerywhere. It takes 2 hour to 3 hours to fully charge a Chevrolet Volt or 6 to 8 hours to charge a Nissan LEAF, according to the utility.
  • Los Angeles, which has been identified as an ideal geographic location for electric vehicles and is offering electric vehicle customers rebates of up to $2,000 on home charging stations through the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
  • Mercer Island, Wash., which has streamlined the permit process necessary to install home-charging equipment installations. The council also is installing publicly available chargers.
  • Normal, Ill., which has benefitted from a partnership with Mitsubishi Motors. The two are creating EV Town, which is a campaign to help create a climate that encourage investments in electric transportation.

Just important, WHAT are these communities doing right?

Their efforts fall into 4 distinct categories:

  1. Find a local business partner. Most of the examples above have gotten utility companies or electric vehicle manufacturers involved in some way to help foot some of the bills.
  2. Find a way to offer rebates. Money talks. Enough said?
  3. Find a way to change regulations or ordinances that get in the way. Or, better yet, why not pass a law that helps streamline the permit or construction process for projects related to supporting the rollout of alternative transportation methods?
  4. Educate on best practices. In particular, the EDTA notes that communities will need more education on the best times to charge vehicles so that they don't affect grid stability, as well as how to use renewable energy for at least some of the charging power.

Communities or electric vehicle advocates might want to consult the EDTA information for more ideas.

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