Making a New Year’s resolution to go green in 2013? Choosing an electric or hybrid vehicle can take a huge bite out of your carbon footprint. Aside from issues of high price and longevity, there’s another issue for drivers to tackle when making decisions about their next vehicle: will their hometown make it impossible/painful to use?
Infrastructure, mainly in the form of conveniently-located charging stations, is paramount to EV adoption. We’ve got gas stations everywhere we look, but when’s the last time you passed an EV charging station? Exactly.
In 2011, Ford published a list of its picks for the most EV-friendly cities in America. Criteria for scoring well on the list included a utilities structure that allows off-peak charging, reduced red tape for getting EV permits and inspections, incentives for offsetting up-front customer costs, urban plans for charging infrastructure, and EV-friendly city advisory committees.
Most of the cities on the Ford list were major metropolitan areas with plenty of funds to sink into advanced vehicle programs, but it doesn’t take a huge city to be EV-friendly. In a continuation of this theme, the Electric Drive Transportation Association released its own list spotlighting towns doing everything they can to encourage EV adoption. Here’s a sampling of both lists.
Austin Energy has created the first charging station network to be powered completely by renewable energy through the GreenChoice program. This program is the first of its kind in the country, and makes good on the true zero-emissions promise of the EV industry.
Mitsubishi Motors, manufacturer of the Mitsubishi battery electric vehicle, has partnered with this Illinois community to create EVTown, an effort driven by a coalition of business officials, government representatives and other interested stakeholders who firmly believe electric vehicles offer tremendous benefits to individual vehicle owners, businesses and the greater community. EVTown aims to provide members of the Normal community with all of the information needed to evaluate available electric vehicle technologies.
Mercer Island, Washington
Mercer Island is promoting the MI Green Ribbon Commission Carbon Challenge, which encourages community members to consider environmentally friendly practices. One component of the challenge encourages the use of electric vehicles and improving fuel efficiency. Additionally, Mercer Island has streamlined the permit process for home charging equipment installation, making it easier for single-family home owners to adopt electric vehicles.
L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has committed the city to furthering the development and adoption of alternative fuel technology. For example, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power offers electric car customers rebates of up to $2,000 on home charging systems and has determined time-of-use prices for charging electric cars during off-peak hours.
The City of Boston was recently granted 22 free electric vehicle dual charging stations by the Green Communities Division of the Massachusetts’ Department of Energy Resources (DOER). The grant provides the charging units and $1,000 per station for installation, which can be used by EV drivers without charge for two years. Through the EVboston initiative, the City of Boston is preparing for the growth of the electric vehicle market in the region, and as a newly designated “Green Community”, the City of Boston was able to apply for these funds and was given priority for consideration on the state’s list of potential applicants. Additionally, the city is hiring an electric vehicle policy coordinator to help improve efficiency of the EV permitting processes.
Although the techniques and strategies employed by each city varies somewhat, each of the top five are doing what they can to give consumers the power of choice: a city that is ready to facilitate planet-friendly travel by electric vehicle if that’s what they choose.
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