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MassEVolves Spotlight: Braintree Electric Light Company (BELD)

BELDThe Braintree Electric Light Department’s innovative “Braintree Drives Electric” program has been generating awareness and promoting the use of electric vehicles (EVs) to Braintree residents since 2016.

The program provides Braintree residents with discounts based on their charging habits and for the installation of charging equipment at their home. 

“We want to show residents the many benefits of owning or leasing an EV, including reduction to environmental impacts, affordability, and efficiency,” says Ken Stone, Energy Services and Accounting Manager. 

After partnering with Sagewell and Energy New England to help promote the program, BELD currently has about 80 residents enrolled with approximately 100 EVs in the town of Braintree. 

As part of the program, BELD has hosted virtual EVents, including a Q&A and a local EV specialist roundtable. Sagewell identifies new Braintree EV owners and contacts them to inform them about the Braintree Drives Electric program and uses smart charging program data to analyze residents’ charging habits. Energy New England manages the Braintree Drives Electric website, processes all customer rebates, and provides outreach to customers and local car dealerships. 

BELD currently owns and operates one Chevrolet Volt, two Volkswagen e-Golfs, and two hybrid bucket trucks, with a third hybrid bucket truck ordered and expected to arrive in 2021. BELD also owns and operates two dual head charging stations, which are free of charge for all electric vehicle users.t

To learn more about BELD, visit beld.net. To download the complete MassEVolves BELD PDF case study, click here.

MassEVolves is a statewide initiative conducted by Recharge America in partnership with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Department of Environmental Protection. More information about the MassEVolves program is at massevolves.org.

Leading by Example: A New Program to Promote EV Fleet Purchases in Mass.

Leading by Example Fleet Challenge

Leading by Example Fleet ChallengeMore than any other single group, fleet vehicle operators stand to gain from going electric. Fleet vehicles tend to be used much more frequently than passenger vehicles and are operated for much longer durations, and as a consequence, the economic benefits of lower maintenance and fuel costs are multiplied.

With fleet vehicles in mind, MassEVolves, in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources’ Leading by Example (LBE), has created a new program opportunity: the Electric Vehicle Purchase Challenge (The Challenge). This annual, voluntary challenge initiative spotlights new electric vehicle (EV) purchases for fleets made by MassEVolves participants. 

MassEVolves is a state program recognizing organizations for supporting the use of electric vehicles for their operations, employees, and communities. It is conducted by Recharge America in partnership with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Department of Environmental Protection. 

For the inaugural year of The Challenge, MassEVolves will recognize participants who have or will be purchasing electric fleet vehicles between 2018 and the end of calendar year 2021 then on an annual basis The Challenge offers a unique opportunity to add additional EVs to the roads of Massachusetts. 

Any eligible organization or agency that wishes to participate in The Challenge can: 

  1. Submit a MassEVolves participation pledge. 
  2. Participate with MassEVolves and LBE staff, as applicable, in technical support activities related to implementing the pledge. 
  3. Submit data on the number and types of EVs acquired between January 1, 2018 and the end of calendar year 2021.

While The Challenge is not an incentive program, it does provide valuable recognition, networking, and learning opportunities.

Why Fleet Electrification Makes So Much Sense 

An article by Heather Flanagan on CleanTechnica about fleet vehicles (sponsored by ABB) spells out some of the key benefits of fleet electrification. 

The not-so-secret sauce is utilization. A typical passenger car vehicle in the US might travel around 12,000 miles per year, but a transit bus or Class 8 truck will see up to five times that usage. Consequently, reliability, longevity, and associated maintenance costs are on an entirely different scale for fleet owners …. 

An individual EV owner may save more than a thousand dollars annually on fuel and maintenance costs over a comparable combustion vehicle while reducing their individual carbon footprint. For a fleet of a thousand round-the-clock buses, trucks, or rideshare vehicles operating at 50,000 miles per year or more over the course of ten years, the savings escalate quickly into the millions.

The new Challenge by  MassEVolves and Leading By Example provides a unique opportunity for participants to share best practices and gain access to valuable information from peers, helping to guide their EV rollout plans for the months and years to come. 

Eligible entities for The Challenge include companies, higher education institutions, and state agencies across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. All state agencies should contact LBE’s Eric Friedman at eric.friedman@state.ma.us.

To sign up and learn more, email Leynah McGarghan at lmcgarghan@recharge-america.org.

Leynah McGarghan is Program Strategist at Recharge America

GM Aspires to Go All-Electric by 2035: What It Means for EV Infrastructure

GM’s recent announcement aiming to offer an all-electric lineup of light-duty vehicles by 2035 is big news. GM is one the top car manufacturers in the world, and other manufacturers are likely to follow suit. The company is allocating $27 billion to support the pivot to electric vehicles. In light of President Biden’s plans to make the federal fleet all-electric by 2035, it suggests that massive EV adoption is just around the corner, not around the block. This is exciting, yes, but also puts some urgent priorities into the spotlight. 

Over the next decade, as we envision EVs becoming increasingly common across our neighborhoods, cities and states some key questions come to mind: Where are the EV chargers? Who doesn’t have access yet to EV chargers yet, and where do they live?  What about our rural

GM plans to become carbon neutral in its global products and operations by 2040 and has committed to setting science-based targets to achieve carbon neutrality. (Photo by Steve Fecht for General Motors)

communities, where residents must drive further for everyday needs like groceries?  What about our disadvantaged communities, which often have the most to gain from reducing vehicle emissions given that they often live closest to the most dangerous transportation pollution? 

In recent memory, we can recall that the haphazard rollout of the Internet spurred the Digital Divide, where only certain communities had high speed access. With adequate foresight, the EV rollout offers us an opportunity to get it right this time. 

Planning is a critical component of any EV initiative within a business, community, state or region. Whether the objective is a Level 2 charge installation in a business parking lot or a corridor-wide buildout of fast chargers across a state, a few key questions must be addressed. Where is the optimal location? What fees will apply, if any? Will charge stations be accessible to the general public? Multiply questions like these on a national scale and the complexity could quickly threaten to overwhelm steady progress without careful, coordinated planning. Decisions now will have consequences for years to come.

Increasingly, the auto industry is recognizing that the future for transportation is electric, and we can expect other manufacturers to follow GM with strong EV announcements. The Biden Administration is certainly providing leadership, with its pledges to support electric vehicles and EV infrastructure. The progress is welcome given that EVs are terrific for local economies, and everyone stands to benefit from a rapid EV rollout no matter where they live. Getting the coordination right from the  federal level all the way to local businesses and organizations — with  state and local government entities working alongside in helping plan the transition to electric vehicles — will maximize those benefits for the most people.

Kirk Brown is President and CEO of Recharge America

Electric Vehicles Are Front and Center for the Biden Administration

President Joe Biden signs his "Made in America" executive order

 

President Joe Biden signs his "Made in America" executive orderElectric vehicles (EVs) are taking center stage in Washington D.C. policy discussions.

President Biden announced plans this week to convert the entire fleet of federal vehicles, estimated to number 645,000, to electric as part of his Buy American Executive Order. It’s just the latest in a series of statements and pledges that underscore the president’s focus on electrifying our transportation system.

As a presidential candidate, Biden talked regularly about the many advantages of EVs. His $2 trillion Energy and Climate Plan calls for expanding EV tax credits to cover hundreds of thousands of additional vehicles, as well as the installation of 500,000 EV chargers across the United States.  

With this latest Biden EV announcement, it is clear that this White House views EVs as a central strategy  for addressing multiple challenges confronting the nation. 

US Federal Fleet to Go Electric, Says Biden 

“The federal government…owns an enormous fleet of vehicles, which we’re going to replace with clean electric vehicles made right here in America by American workers, creating a million auto worker jobs and clean energy and vehicles that are at zero emissions,” Biden said on  Monday.  While the timeline of this transition remains unclear, the focus on EVs is not. 

On fuel, maintenance, power and performance, electric fleet vehicles are unmatched. Current limitations are supply and initial sticker price, but as manufacturing volumes increase and battery technology advances, these should rapidly subside. 

Some states already provide incentives for organizations to purchase fleet vehicles. In Massachusetts, for example, under the state’s MOR-EV program, commercial and nonprofit fleets, which include company-owned vehicles, companies with vans, rental car companies, and companies that provide vehicles to employees instead of paying mileage, are eligible to receive purchase rebates of up to $2500 per vehicle. (Vehicles must have been purchased on or after June 25, 2020). 

As we pointed out in an earlier Recharge America blog post about EV equity and access, government initiatives that promote EV adoption are an effective means of ensuring that people of all backgrounds and geographic locations can access and take advantage of all the benefits EVs offer.

 

Why Electric Vehicles Represent An Economic Powerhouse for Our Communities

Recharge America: National nonprofit spotlighting the strategies, stories, and initiatives leading the charge with electric vehicles.

Recharge America: National nonprofit spotlighting the strategies, stories, and initiatives leading the charge with electric vehicles.Over the past few years, Massachusetts has embarked on an ambitious program of statewide economic renewal and development, yet too few residents are aware of it. The initiative? Electric vehicles (EVs).

Massachusetts is offering tens of millions of dollars in rebates and incentives to consumers, businesses and nonprofits, both to get more EVs on the road and to build the charging infrastructure necessary to power them. The state’s goal is to have 300,000 EVs registered by 2025. By 2035, all new vehicles sold in the state will be required to be EVs. By contrast, fewer than 30,000 EVs were registered in Massachusetts in 2018.

The transition to electric vehicles marks an investment that will boast excellent returns for Massachusetts residents for decades to come.  

EVs and the Economy 

The economic potential to be unlocked with the transition to EVs is enormous. Electric vehicles are a powerhouse for local economies. 

Unlike petroleum-based fuels, electricity is produced within the Northeast and serviced locally, helping keep local transportation energy dollars local in Massachusetts. Investments in charging stations and other EV infrastructure projects employ Massachusetts workers and lower transportation costs because running on electricity is more efficient. A 2016 analysis estimated that reducing emissions and particulate matter created by combustion engines will save over $400 in healthcare costs per EV per year. A 2019 study by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that pollution produced by vehicles disproportionately impacts the air quality in minority communities in Massachusetts. This inequity would be eliminated with widespread EV adoption.

According to the October 2020 edition of Consumer Reports, EVs save their owners hundreds of dollars annually in fuel and maintenance costs. For the nine most popular EVs they analyzed, “lifetime ownership costs were many thousands of dollars lower than all comparable ICE vehicles’ costs, with most EVs offering savings of between $6,000 and $10,000.” (We will delve into the details of this analysis in a future post). 

As the technology evolves and production volume increases, many more EV choices for a wide range of households, and household incomes, are increasingly available. Lower-cost options from Nissan, Chevrolet, Ford, Kia, and more are on the market today, with more choices regularly introduced. Used EVs are also on the market at deep discounts, and if you buy a new electric vehicle in Massachusetts, you can reduce your cost by up to $10,000 in state and federal credits and rebates. Moreover, manufacturers including GM, Ford and Toyota have made public announcements that they will be offering EV options across their entire line-up, if not moving entirely away from manufacturing traditional gas-powered vehicles, meaning that many more options are soon to be in the market that can serve virtually every kind of household.

Add it all up and even conservative estimates show that each new electric vehicle in Massachusetts generates over $1,000 per year in economic savings and activity for the community where it is located. Those benefits repeat year over year. When 300,000 EVs are registered in Massachusetts they will generate over $3 billion per year in benefit, or over $30 billion over a decade. That’s more than the annual budgets for the state’s Office of Housing and Economic Development and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services combined

Businesses Leading the Way in  EV Adoption

Massachusetts employers interested in speeding the transition by installing EV charging stations for their workers can receive financial support from the state. The Massachusetts Electric Vehicle Incentive Program (MassEVIP) helps employers acquire electric vehicle charging stations through grants funded by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. The program provides incentives for employers to acquire and install EV charging stations. Applicants with 15 or more employees in non-residential places of business are eligible. MassDEP provides 60 percent of the funding (up to $50,000 per street address) for hardware costs. 

For commercial business fleets, charging an electric vehicle is much more affordable than filling up the gas tank of a traditional vehicle, costing the equivalent of paying $1.30 a gallon for gas. Electric tractors and trailers can save 15-20% fuel costs over traditional equipment. Add in lower maintenance costs and the savings are significant.  

Providing employees with access to EV charging stations makes sense in another important way as well. They provide a reminder that an organization cares about its employees and the environment given that, in addition to their many economic benefits, EVs are a critical component of the Commonwealth’s strategy to reduce pollution and achieve net-zero global warming emissions by 2050.

EVs: a win for the economy, consumers, the environment, and Massachusetts.

Kirk Brown is President and CEO of Recharge America

Electric Vehicles and Equal Access: Making Sure No One Gets Left Behind

Massachusetts is doubling down on decarbonization. The Commonwealth unveiled its 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap on December 31, 2020 and electric vehicles (EVs) are a key component of the plan. Massachusetts aims to have one million EVs on the road by 2030, and will end sales of new conventional gas vehicles entirely by 2035. Two other states, California and New Jersey, have set a 2035 deadline as well. 

Why should Massachusetts declare an end to new sales of traditional vehicles when market forces are already moving the industry in that general direction? Because it can help organize and marshal resources to guarantee equal access to EVs and charging infrastructure across communities in every part of the Commonwealth. 

Electric Vehicles and Exponential Technology Progress

Advancements in EV technology are proceeding at such a rapid pace that traditional gas vehicles will likely be antiquated in the new vehicle marketplace by 2035, regardless of state policy proclamations. Better driving performance and lower maintenance and fuel costs mean that many drivers already recognize EVs as a superior choice to conventional vehicles. As falling battery prices and higher production volumes continue to drive their costs down, EVs will be the obvious choice for most people in the vehicle market much earlier – possibly within the next few years.

While incremental improvements to combustion engines have been made over time, their  fundamental principles have remained largely unchanged for decades. In contrast, vehicle electrification has unlocked the kind of astounding technological progress we are more used to seeing with the information economy. According to BloombergNEF’s annual battery price survey, lithium-ion battery pack prices, which were above $1,100 per kilowatt-hour in 2010, have fallen 89 percent in real terms to $137/kWh in 2020. Average prices will be close to $100/kWh by 2023. Tesla regularly updates the software for its vehicles, adding new features and functionality to cars already on the road. In short, EVs are steadily getting better and less costly, and are well on the way to winning the technology and market contest with traditional vehicles. Soon, the customer preference will not be close.  

Government Action Can Set the Stage

State government initiatives setting an end date for conventional vehicle sales serve an important purpose. Though electricity is available everywhere, charging EVs on the road requires different infrastructure than gas-powered vehicles. Making certain that EV charging infrastructure makes inroads in all of our communities, and not just some of them, is a shared objective that statewide goals for vehicle sales can help reinforce. Nobody should miss out on all of the advantages EVs offer. 

State governments learned an important lesson from the rollout of the Internet and the ensuing Digital Divide that separated the haves and have nots of high speed Internet access, limiting accessibility to underserved communities, primarily rural and minority ones. While the FCC claims that significant progress has been made to rectify this problem, the pandemic has revealed that many students in rural and underserved communities remain unable to engage in online learning due to slow connections. Transportation electrification gives states an opportunity to do things differently from the start to ensure a different outcome related to EVs. 

EV Benefits to Underserved Communities: Lower Health, Transportation Costs 

Heath considerations alone should make ensuring equal access to EVs a crucial statewide objective.  A 2019 study by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that pollution produced by vehicles disproportionately impacts the air quality in minority communities in Massachusetts, leading to chronic health issues such as asthma and heart disease. Asian Americans, African Americans and Latinos all face higher rates of exposure to hazardous vehicle emissions than white residents – as much as 36 percent worse. Given the clear benefits of clean air, when lower healthcare costs are factored along with the lower maintenance and fuel costs that come from driving electric, these communities potentially stand to gain the most from widespread EV adoption.

In Massachusetts, conservative estimates find that EV drivers can expect annual maintenance savings of $353 per vehicle, fuel savings of $144, air pollution-related health costs of $434, and climate-related savings of $271, totalling $1202 in annual economic benefit. In relative terms, lower income residents should benefit the most from these savings. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’s Consumer Expenditure Survey has shown that transportation is the second highest American household expenditure, only exceeded by housing costs, and that households in poverty spend a higher proportion of their income on transportation expenses. 

Rural Access to EV Charging Infrastructure

For their part, rural community members tend to drive much longer distances to perform everyday tasks than their urban counterparts. Ensuring ready access to charging stations near homes and businesses in less populated parts of the state will be crucial to support the transition to clean transportation across these areas. Moreover, rural communities with a healthy allocation of EV charging options quite literally put themselves on the map as driving destinations for EV driving visitors and tourists.  

EVs today are already significantly more affordable to fuel and maintain than traditional vehicles. Federal and state tax credits and rebates are helping to lower the sticker price of buying a new EV to make them more accessible today. State initiatives to eventually make EVs the vehicle of choice statewide are another practical way to make sure that residents from all walks of life can benefit from the many concrete advantages they offer. 

Kirk Brown is President and CEO of Recharge America