“Today, drivers finally have a choice. Thanks in part to smart policies in Maine and from the Obama administration, every major automobile manufacturer is offering a new plug-in vehicle powered primarily by electricity. For the first time, we can power our cars with clean energy.” said Ben Seel, Clean Energy Organizer at Environment Maine.
Lee Auto Malls, a major car dealer in the state has been selling the vehicles for some time. “The owners that I have spoken with have all been very happy with their electric vehicles, and their reduced dependence on oil,” said Adam Lee of Lee Auto Malls.
With the right policies in place, plug-in vehicles can reduce oil dependence in Maine by more than 542,000 gallons per year, according to a new report released today by Environment Maine.
“To tackle Maine’s oil dependence and global warming, ReVision Energy is investing in electric vehicles and charging infrastructure so that Mainers can get there from here without burning a drop of fossil fuel,” said Phil Coupe, co-founder of ReVision Energy.
In 2011 Maine, according to a law outlining the state’s comprehensive energy plan established in 2007, updated a time line and confirmed its goals to reduce oil dependence by 30 percent by 2030 and 50 percent by 2050 (LD 553). The Office of Energy Independence and Security must develop a plan, with input from stakeholders, to achieve the targets and submit it to the Legislature by December 1, 2012–though work on the plan has not yet begun.
According to the state’s comprehensive energy plan Maine’s oil dependence reduction plan must:
A. Be designed to achieve the targets of reducing the State’s consumption of oil by at least 30 percent from 2007 levels by 2030 and by at least 50 percent from 2007 levels by 2050;
B. Focus on near-term policies and infrastructure changes that set the State on a reasonable trajectory to meet the 2030 and 2050 targets in paragraph A;
C. Prioritize the improvement of energy efficiency and the transition to the use of alternative energy sources for heating and transportation; and
D. Draw on existing state data and studies rather than new analysis, including, but not limited to, analysis and data from the State’s climate action plan.
In Washington, President Obama has proposed fuel efficiency standards that Environment Maine credits as being the most important step ever taken to build clean, advanced technology cars that will get us off oil. The administration is expected to finalize the new standards this summer. His administration has also made investments in critical technologies, such as advanced batteries and high powered charging stations.
“Any plan to get Maine off of oil must include putting our foot on the accelerator of plug-in vehicles,” said Seel.
Currently, Maine ranks 43rd in the country in total number of vehicle charging stations. Environment Maine’s report calls for more work to be done to build the infrastructure of the charging stations that can service these vehicles.
Electric cars could eventually be run by wind power produced by offshore wind farms. The state’s comprehensive energy plan set goals for wind energy production and its transmission that could make this a reality.
Maine’s clean cars program, has helped ensure that Maine drivers continue to have a choice between vehicles powered by oil and advanced, high-tech vehicles powered by clean energy. Since 2009, about 11 percent of new cars sold in Maine have been either hybrid gas-electric or new clean-burning gasoline-powered cars as a result of Governor John Baldacci’s clean car program that was signed into law in 2005.
Maine will soon have the opportunity to build on the clean car program by adopting new rules to require that 15 percent of vehicles sold in Maine be Zero Emission Vehicles. This measure will help the state accommodate over 1.4 million electric vehicles by 2025.
According to the Environmental Maine report, Charging Forward: The Emergence of Electric Vehicles and Their Role in Reducing Oil Consumption, 2,300 drivers in Maine could purchase their first plug-in vehicle within the next three years. Overall these vehicles will reduce Maine’s carbon pollution by nearly 3,500 metric tons per year. If the plug-in vehicles are powered by clean sources of electricity, these savings will rise to over 9,600 metric tons per year.
The Environment Maine report shows the technological breakthroughs that have helped plug-in vehicles become a real alternative to combustion engine cars– from advanced batteries that have dropped in price by over 80 percent, to super-fast charging stations that have reduced charge times by over 90 percent.
To make plug-in vehicles a choice for more consumers, Environment Maine’s report calls for more work to be done to build the infrastructure of the charging stations that can service these vehicles, as well as more investment in the technologies that will drive down prices.
There are only three vehicle charging stations in the state. Two of them are at Lee Nissan in Auburn and the third is at the Acadia Welcome Center in Trenton. According to Seel there will be a solar-powered charging station opening at ReVision Energy at 142 Presumpscot Street in Portland on July 26.
Environment Maine also called on state and federal leaders to help plug-in vehicles achieve the greatest possible pollution reductions by adopting policies that will ensure we get more of our electricity from clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.
“Maine’s high percentage of renewable power generation coupled with our over reliance on fossil fuels in the transportation sector, which generates our largest source of carbon emissions and energy costs in the state, make EVs a very attractive choice for consumers,” said Steve Linnell, Coordinator, Maine Clean Communities.
“Electric vehicles offer all Americans hope for a cleaner, healthier future. But to make this promise a reality, continued public investment will be necessary to ensure that these vehicles are as convenient and as affordable as cars powered by oil,” said Seel.
Pollution and oil savings benefits were found by comparing the pollution produced and oil burned by a conventional population of cars to the pollution produced and oil burned by the projected population of electric cars. Electric vehicle rollout estimates are from the Center for Automotive Research.