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Opinion: Energy Article Too Harsh on EVs

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I would like to comment on “The Challenges of Combating Climate Change Via Everyday Energy Use” by Carla Occaso in the August 31, 2021, issue of The Bridge. Specifically, I find Carla’s commentary on electric vehicles more dismal than it should be. We have owned an EV for two years now and would gladly recommend it for almost everyone. We have learned things about managing transportation that come with experience. Carla states, probably accurately, that “charging their batteries is the biggest obstacle for potential purchasers.” I would like to propose that it takes a shift in thinking about how you put energy into your vehicle. Think about how much time you DON’T spend in your car every day. This is the time for you to charge. It can be when you are at work, when you are sleeping, or even when you are shopping or out to dinner. You don’t need to run your car to empty when you are just commuting, and fully charging your vehicle is not necessary either. (You don’t need to completely fill your gas-consuming car for you to continue driving.) Oh, and by the way, the electricity needed to drive an electric car the same distance as your current gas-consuming car costs significantly less than the gas you would need.

Purchasing an electric vehicle does cost a bit more than its gas-consuming equivalent, but there are major incentives out there for the taking. These incentives (federal, state, and from power companies such as GMP) make buying a new EV about the same as buying a new gasoline car. Car dealers will even help you utilize the incentives regardless of whether you purchase or lease.

Also, we have an unheated, detached garage where we park our EV. It is not necessary to heat your garage. And, even if you have a heated garage, it won’t keep your car heated while you are away at work. It is true that the battery won’t get you as far in the winter, but it just goes back to managing your charging. Our car can travel 220–240 miles on a single charge in the summer, but our commute is only 18 miles one way. We don’t need to charge it every day, we just need to charge it more frequently in the winter.

One more comment on the level-3 DC fast chargers that Carla mentioned. These are only necessary for long trips where a full charge won’t get you all the way. In fact, it is not recommended to use these chargers very often. If you think this would be an issue for you, you would need to get a car that has a bigger battery and more distance per charge. We have found it to be part of the fun of planning a trip by mapping out the fast chargers on the way to our destination. The website “PlugShare” allows users to rate all varieties of chargers so that you will know which ones are more dependable. Finding a reliable charger near a nice restaurant or sightseeing spot or shops you can’t find in Vermont will cause you to slow down and enjoy the journey.

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Thanks for the discussion.

Diane Cook Donovan lives in Washington, Vermont.