RENEW Wisconsin Electric Vehicle Blog: Midwest Electric Vehicles in 5 Maps (NRDC Guest Blog)

RENEW Wisconsin Electric Vehicle Blog: Midwest Electric Vehicles in 5 Maps (NRDC Guest Blog)

I’ve been following the NRDC Fellows’ EV road trip across the Midwest. They drove, they charged, and they wrote about it. This particular blog post, about the Midwest electric vehicle market, caught my eye. At first, maybe it was due to the colorful maps, but I found an underlying message for Wisconsin in this post: Keep the ball rolling.

There is so much potential for Wisconsin to be a leader in the electric vehicle market, and these statistics prove it. With hardly any pro-electric vehicle policy, Wisconsin is keeping up with states like Minnesota and Michigan. Think about what we could do if we keep the ball rolling! Recent wins like the Volkswagen Settlement Funding signal a bright future for Wisconsin’s electric vehicle market.

Enjoy!


Midwest Electric Vehicles in 5 Maps

July 02, 2019
Ada Statler  Jessica Russo  Madhur Boloor  Patricia Valderrama Samuel Garcia 

This is the sixth blog in a series about our Midwest electric vehicle adventure.

We’ve written about electric vehicle (EV) policies and pilot programs in the Midwest, as well as sub-trends we’ve seen along our 1,300+ mile electric road trip route. But it can also be helpful to see where the numbers stand overall. These maps look state by state at EV sales numbers, market shares, growth, charging infrastructure, and related jobs. Notably, the places where we’re seeing the most EV-related activity (darker blues in the map) are also generally where we’ve seen the introduction of more EV-friendly policies.

Looking at the number of new EVs bought in a state can seem like the most straightforward way to understand how many clean cars are on the road there. But without taking population and car ownership numbers overall into account, it is hard to really get a sense of where EVs are taking off and where they still need encouragement.

Looking at EV purchases as a percent of market share within each state is a bit more helpful as it allows you to consider how big of a presence EV sales are in the state’s market. For perspective, the highest EV penetration is in states like California, where the 7.84 percent EV market share of new vehicles bought in the state in 2018 represents 46.8% of national EV sales that year—likely due to Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEV) Standards that require automakers to stock EVs in-state. The ZEV standard goal is 2.5 percent market share for EVs by 2025 and 8 percent market share by 2030. No Midwestern states have joined the coalition of states with ZEV standards. Nevertheless, Illinois and Minnesota lead the region with 1.2 and 1.14 percent EV market shares respectively. (It’s no coincidence that both these states also have a relatively high number of public chargers, and that Minnesota has been moving forward with utility charging programs.) Policies like ZEV standards could go a long way toward reducing barriers to EV access in this region and expanding consumer choice.

It might still be hard to get a sense of EV growth without looking at how the market share changes from year to year. The short of it: quickly! This map shows the change in EV market share over one year. Notably, some states, like Illinois, have grown faster (as a percent change) in the past, while others, like Nebraska, are just starting to see more growth and thus appear to have greater growth.

Increasing the number of public charging stations is essential in order to enable longer-distance travel in electric vehicles and ownership options for roadtrippers, and for those who may not be able to charge an EV at home. This data source looks at number of plugs as opposed to stations because there may be anywhere from one to eight plugs at a single charging station. Both the total plug count and the total station count are important: we don’t want any EVs to have to wait in line to charge, but we also want to make sure that stations have a useful geographic spread. 

It’s important to note that these ports are not evenly distributed throughout the state. Most are concentrated in larger cities, with a few along major highways. In our experience, there are certainly spots where more could be useful. For instance, even in Missouri, which has the largest number of absolute charging ports in the region, it would have been very difficult for us to travel in our Chevy Bolt (a longer range non-Tesla EV) between the state’s two largest cities, St. Louis and Kansas City. This is just one example of the need for more strategically distributed chargers.


Thanks to the NRDC team for allowing us to share their blog. Check out other blogs from the NRDC Fellows Road Trip here.

Governor Evers Signs Budget Designating VW Money to Electric Vehicle Charging Stations!

Governor Evers Signs Budget Designating VW Money to Electric Vehicle Charging Stations!

Wisconsin has secured Volkswagen Settlement funding for electric vehicle charging stations!

Governor Evers signed the State Budget today, with 78 partial vetoes. One of those vetoes was used to edit the section designating Volkswagen Settlement funding. In the signed budget, up to $10 million can be used for electric vehicle charging stations.

Over the next two years, Wisconsin is expected to receive $25 million in Volkswagen settlement funding. Evers’ veto reinstates his original proposal which allocates $15 million to replace public buses and up to $10 million for electric vehicle charging stations.

Together, we sent 443 letters to legislators telling them that electric vehicle charging stations are important for advancing clean energy in Wisconsin. Thank you for your support in making this issue heard!

Now, Wisconsin will join the 45 other states taking advantage of this huge opportunity to kickstart the fast-growing electric market. We are eager to see the future of clean transportation in Wisconsin, and believe this funding will go a long way toward making electric vehicles accessible for all Wisconsinites.

RENEW Wisconsin at the 30th Anniversary MREA Energy Fair

RENEW Wisconsin at the 30th Anniversary MREA Energy Fair

Last weekend, the MREA Energy Fair brought people together to learn about clean energy and sustainability, connect with others, and take action towards a sustainable future. The Fair featured workshops, exhibitors, live music, inspiring keynote speakers, family fun, great local food, and more. The Energy Fair is the longest-running event of its kind in the nation and RENEW Wisconsin was excited to be a part of it!

RENEW staff presented some compelling workshops and you can download slides from their presentations below.

Clean Energy Communications

Jodi Jean Amble, RENEW’s Communications Director, presented a workshop on clean energy communications. She discussed 6 tenets of creating effective communications messages, shared insights from clean energy communications polling,  and showcased some of RENEW’s recent campaigns.

Community-Led Clean Energy Action

Michael Vickerman, RENEW’s Policy Director, presented a workshop focused on communities across Wisconsin that are taking action to advance renewable energy in meaningful ways. Michael’s presentation surveys the specific action steps taken by individual municipalities to procure new supplies of solar energy and integrate carbon reduction goals into their own operations, including local transit options.  

Solar Farms – Economic and Agricultural Benefits

Heather Allen, RENEW’s Program Director, presented a workshop on solar farms featuring Bob Bishop, a local farmer from Iowa County renting his land out for the 300 Megawatt Badger Hollow Solar Farm. They talked about the economic, environmental and agricultural benefits of solar farms for rural communities. This workshop explored how to address frequently asked questions including those related to land use, food production, visual changes, and community values.

Solar for Good – Helping Wisconsin Nonprofits

Sam Dunaiski, RENEW’s Program Manager, presented information on the Solar for Good program including how the program got started and how it assists nonprofits in going solar. The workshop also featured a panel of nonprofits and solar installers that participated in the program. Panelists were Joe Lenarz (Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School), Kelsey Parry (Heckrodt Wetland Preserve), Angie Kochanski (Arch Electric), and Doug Stingle (North Wind Renewable Energy).

Electric Vehicle Toolkit

Jane McCurry, RENEW’s Program Manager focusing on electric vehicles, presented a workshop for people interested in seeing EV adoption advance in the Midwest. The discussion included charging infrastructure, influencing policy, the benefits of driving electric, and why EVs are good for the community, state, and country.

RENEW Wisconsin Electric Vehicle Blog: Electric Charging Station Funding Takes Another Step

RENEW Wisconsin Electric Vehicle Blog: Electric Charging Station Funding Takes Another Step

On May 28th the Assembly Energy and Utilities Committee held a hearing on Assembly Bill 233. The bill would allocate a little over $10 million of the Volkswagen Settlement money to fund electric vehicle charging stations in Wisconsin.

RENEW Wisconsin, Customers First! and Wisconsin Conservative Energy Forum all spoke in favor of the goal of the bill. We stressed the importance of preparing Wisconsin for the coming transition to electric vehicles, and, with our allies, made the case for using Volkswagen Settlement Funding to do so. A number of other groups testified with concerns about specific provisions that they believe need to be changed.

Representative Adam Neylon (R-Pewaukee) and Senator Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay) are the lead authors of the bill. They both agreed that the legislation needs some work but they are committed to adjusting the proposal to ensure it best serves the mission of the bill, which is to increase access to electric vehicle charging in Wisconsin.

This legislation is similar to a proposal that Governor Tony Evers put into his budget bill.  RENEW is working  with stakeholders and elected officials to address the details of the bill and bolster support for using $10 million of the VW Funding for electric vehicle infrastructure.

In our testimony below, we highlighted the benefits of electric vehicles, the need for fast-charging stations, and our concerns with AB 233 that we feel need to be fixed for this legislation to be passed or for it to be included in the budget bill.

There is still time to get involved! Please reach out to your legislators to support AB 233 and Governor Evers budget proposal.

For more information on the background of the Volkswagen Settlement, see previous Electric Vehicle Blogs: Volkswagen Settlement Update and “The Volkswagen Settlement” – A Big Opportunity for Electric Vehicles.


Assembly Bill 233 – Clean Energy Corridor Grants
Testimony before the Assembly Energy and Utilities Committee

Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Jim Boullion, Director of Government Affairs
Jane McCurry, Electric Vehicles Program Manager


Jim Boullion: Chairman Kuglitsch and committee members, thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. My name is Jim Boullion, Director of Government Affairs for RENEW Wisconsin.  With me, and also from RENEW Wisconsin, is Electric Vehicles Program Manager Jane McCurry.

RENEW Wisconsin is a nonprofit organization founded in 1991 that promotes all forms of renewable energy in Wisconsin. We work on policies and programs that support solar, wind, biogas, geothermal energy and electric vehicles.

RENEW Wisconsin supports AB 233 and its goal of expanding the availability of electric vehicle charging stations in Wisconsin.

I would like to turn it over to Jane McCurry to share information with you about the market for electric vehicles, details of the Volkswagen Settlement and why this legislation is needed.

Jane McCurry: The market for electric vehicles is changing fast. The upfront price of an electric car is dropping, and is expected to reach parity with internal combustion engine cars by the mid-2020s. Every major auto manufacturer has pledged to overhaul their vehicle offerings. We expect almost 200 new electric vehicle models to be available in the next few years, from SUVs to pickup trucks and sedans.

While most electric vehicle charging is done at home, public charging stations are needed for citizens who live in multifamily buildings, who travel long distances for work, and to support our robust tourism sector. Currently, Wisconsin only has 32 fast charging locations, most of which are densely located in the Madison and Milwaukee areas. In order to make driving electric accessible for everyone in Wisconsin, we need to build a network of fast rechargers that will allow both urban and rural Wisconsinites to drive electric with confidence.

The Federal Volkswagen Settlement, where the money for this bill originates, specifies that the funding can only be used for certain purposes. The Settlement authorizes using up to 15% of the funds for zero emission vehicle infrastructure. As of today, 45 states have opted to use part or all of their available zero emission vehicle infrastructure funding to build out the electric vehicle infrastructure in their state. Wisconsin is one of only 4 states that has submitted a plan for using Volkswagen Funds that did not take advantage of this opportunity.

In the Midwest, there is consensus that we need to act now. Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio are all using the available Volkswagen funding for charging station infrastructure. Each of our Midwest neighbors have slightly different programs for utilizing the funding, however, the consensus very much reflects AB 233’s plan to prioritize fast charging along major highway corridors.

Because 85% of Wisconsin’s Volkswagen funds must be used for retrofitting or replacing diesel vehicles, we strongly support using the remaining 15% to create a permanent network of high-speed public charging stations, which would give people and businesses the confidence they need to buy hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles in the coming years.

We believe that investing this 15% of the funds in charging stations is by far the best use Wisconsin’s Volkswagen Settlement funding. It is a long-term investment in a critical technology that will last for decades and will benefit everyone in our State.

I will now turn it back over to Jim to make our comments on the specifics of AB 233.

Jim Boullion: The coming increase in electric vehicles on the road is such an important issue that the Wisconsin Public Service Commission recently started an informational docket on the subject.  The information collected in that docket may provide valuable information to the Legislature in finding workable solutions to some of the issues identified in this bill.

As to a few of the individual items in the bill, we have the following comments:

  • 20% to the transportation fund: RENEW does not object to EVs and EV charging stations paying their fair share to support road construction.  However, including a provision on road funding in this particular grant program presents some problems:
    • This would create a tax on charging stations that receive grant money but not on other charging stations. This will be anti-competitive and difficult to implement.
    • Instead of establishing a 20% tax, we would recommend including in the legislation a directive to the PSC asking them to make a recommendation on the best method for public vehicle charging stations to contribute to the road fund.
  • Time of use fees: As currently written, Grant recipients may only charge a parking fee based on the length of time at the charger and not on the amount of electricity consumed.
    • For a level 2 charger this is not an issue because the flow of energy can be almost equally received by all models of electric vehicles. On a DC fast charger, however, a Chevrolet Bolt can accept only 50 kW of power, but a Tesla Model 3 can accept 125 kW.  So, if both cars were plugged in for the same period of time, the Model 3’s battery would be filled with 2 and a half times more electricity.
    • The inequity of getting less power for the same amount of money on a per minute system is a problem. To address it, at least 21 states have allowed financially charging by the electron specifically for electric vehicle charging stations without violating public utility laws.
    • This is an issue that the PSC has included in their EV docket and they will likely make a recommendation on how this should be handled.
  • Grants may not exceed 50% of the cost to purchase and install a charging facility:
    • We agree that grantees need to have “skin in the game,” but the 50% limit may reduce the number of DC fast charging stations that will be deployed using these funds. For example, Pennsylvania allocated $1 million in funding, not part of the Volkswagen Settlement, for 50% matching grants. Their fund did not get any applications until they increased the percentage. Especially in more rural areas of Wisconsin, we may need more than 50% of matching funds to incentivize the installation of fast chargers.
    • We would recommend limiting the grants for level 2 chargers to 50% and allowing grants for DC Fast Chargers up to 75%. Allow the PSC to determine through their application criteria what proposals best serve the State’s goals.

Wisconsin’s plan to use $10,065,000, the full 15% of our allotted settlement funding, will go a long way toward ensuring Wisconsin will not fall behind in the transition to electric transportation. These charging stations will kickstart a whole new market of transportation that will benefit our State and local economies for decades to come. This is an opportunity to ensure all Wisconsin citizens have access to electric vehicles.

Not only that, but electric vehicles provide an opportunity to fuel our transportation with clean, homegrown energy that is produced right here in Wisconsin. Wisconsin spends $8.2 billion each year on fuel for transportation that comes from out-of-state. The program created by AB 233 will bolster our local energy production and local economies for decades to come.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. We are very excited to see your leadership investing in the transition to clean, high-tech transportation.

Tell your legislators you support matching grants for the installation of electric vehicle charging stations!

Tell your legislators you support matching grants for the installation of electric vehicle charging stations!

LEGISLATIVE ALERT!
Contact your Legislators to Support Public Electric Vehicle Charging Station Funding!

AB 233 was introduced on May 22nd and has already been scheduled for a public hearing this Tuesday, May 28. The bill designates a little over $10 million of the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust money to provide matching grants for the installation of public electric vehicle charging stations in Wisconsin. Governor Tony Evers included a similar proposal in his 2019 Budget Bill. While the two proposals have some differences that need to be worked out, everyone agrees that we need to continue building our electric vehicle charging infrastructure to support the transition to electric vehicles that is coming to Wisconsin! We need your help to get this bipartisan proposal passed into law!

Email your legislators or attend the public hearing to support AB 233!

PUBLIC HEARING

Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities
Tuesday, May 28, 2019
1:30 PM
225 Northwest

Assembly Bill 233
Relating to: charging facility grant program and making an appropriation.
By Representatives Neylon, Kuglitsch, Allen, Kitchens, Kulp, Mursau, Petryk, Skowronski, Spiros and Tauchen; cosponsored by Senator Cowles.

AB 233 Provisions

  1. Use $10 million of the Wisconsin portion of the Volkswagen Emission Settlement funds to provide grants to install electric vehicle charging facilities.
  2. “Charging facility” includes level 2 and fast charging equipment and analogous successor technologies that are available to the general public.
  3. The PSC will designate a clean energy corridor consisting of contiguous state trunk highways connecting Wisconsin to Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, and Illinois.
  4. The PSC will develop grant criteria to determine eligible applicants for the grants at places of business located along the clean energy corridor.
  5. Grant recipients may charge a parking fee to use the facility if the fee is based on the time length of a session of use and not on the amount of electricity consumed by the user during a session of use.
  6. Grants may not exceed 50% of the cost to purchase and install a charging facility.
  7. The PSC may award multiple grants to a single applicant.
  8. Utilities that receive revenue collected from the charging facilities shall remit to the PSC 20% of that revenue, who will then deposit it into the state transportation fund.

Thank you for your support!

If you have any questions or would like more information please contact Jim Boullion, RENEW Wisconsin’s Director of Government Affairs at jim@renewwisconsin.org, or call at (608) 695-7004.

RENEW Wisconsin Electric Vehicle Blog: Electric Cars are Better for the Environment (Yes, Even in Wisconsin)

RENEW Wisconsin Electric Vehicle Blog: Electric Cars are Better for the Environment (Yes, Even in Wisconsin)

Image courtesy of Union of Concerned Scientists.


One of the most common questions people ask me is, “Are electric cars really better for the environment?” The resounding answer is, “Yes!”

The logic behind the question is sound; if cars run on electricity, and electricity is made with coal, then electric cars are powered by coal. And is coal really better than gasoline?

Well, yes and no. Ideally, our electricity wouldn’t be made from fossil fuels. But, even so, driving electric produces fewer emissions than driving a gasoline car.

 

No Matter Where you Drive, Electric Cars Produce Fewer Emissions

Union of Concerned Scientists spent years answering this question. Their scientists added up the total emissions from conventional cars and from electric cars. They found that electric cars produce half the emissions of the average gasoline car.

Their findings show that across the country electric vehicles produce the emissions-equivalent of an 80-mpg car. Even in Wisconsin, where the majority of our electricity comes from coal, electric vehicles are far cleaner than the average gasoline car even considering the emissions produced during the manufacturing of the car.

 

Manufacturing Emissions Paint the Wrong Picture

Producing any kind of vehicle takes an abundance of resources and energy. Since electric cars have large batteries they take even more energy to produce.  In fact, the manufacturing emissions could be over 60% higher than a gas-powered car. However, as soon as the cars start to be driven the emissions decrease significantly.

 

Electric Cars are a Lot More Efficient

Electric cars convert more energy into forward movement than gasoline cars. Over 60% of the energy that goes into an electric car gets converted into miles traveled. A gasoline car only uses 20% of the energy from gasoline for miles traveled. This means it takes way more energy to power a gasoline engine than an electric one. So, even if both cars are using fossil fuels, the electric car will use less total energy and produce fewer emissions per mile driven.

 

No Local Emissions

Gasoline cars have tailpipes that emit harmful pollution. Electric cars don’t have a tailpipe, and don’t generate emissions while driving.

This has air quality implications. With a lot of cars operating in close proximity, urban areas and the areas around highways tend to have higher concentrations of air pollution. Since electric cars don’t contribute to pollution in cities and on highways, they can do a lot to help improve air quality.

 

Drive on Sunshine

Plus, electric cars can drive on sunshine. A gasoline car will never be able to be powered with clean, renewable energy. As more renewable energy continues to be added to the grid, electric cars will continue to get even cleaner.

If you don’t want to wait for the grid to get cleaner, consider getting solar panels for your home. Or, if you already have solar power, consider buying an electric car to drive on sunshine! Research shows that people who own solar panels are way more likely to also own an electric car.

So, while an electric car takes more energy to produce, it consumes way less energy during its life. If you care about the emissions of your vehicle, it’s time to ditch the gasmobile.

There are an abundance of other reasons to switch to driving electric, so keep in touch to find out more!