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Why Should I Drive an Electric Vehicle?

4/22/20  |  Nicole Voudren, Rexel Technical Consultants

Why are Electric Vehicles Greener?

In honor of Earth Day, part one of this blog will cover the climate and emissions benefits of owning a battery electric vehicle (BEV) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). 

The transportation sector accounts for 43% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Massachusetts and 36% in Rhode Island. These statistics have never been clearer than during the virus lockdown, when nitrogen dioxide pollution, generated by internal combustion engines burning fossil fuels, fell 30% in New England in March 2020.

This drop in emissions greatly illustrates the climate benefits of a reduction of vehicle miles traveled, but what about electrification of our transportation? If I plug my electric vehicle in, are we really that much better off when we consider the resource mix of the power source?

It turns out, we are. Electric vehicles have fewer emissions per mile over traditional fossil-fuel-powered vehicles. This is due to a few reasons. Firstly, electric vehicles are nearly three times as efficient as gasoline vehicles at transferring the energy input to power at the wheels. Further, the New England Independent System Operator (ISO-NE) reports that 99.5% of the region’s electricity in 2019 was provided by natural gas, nuclear power, imported hydropower, wind and solar renewables, and other low- or non-carbon emitting resources. 

The New England states have all committed to reducing emissions. Some have legislative mandates to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Despite these efforts, 2019 was the second hottest year on record and we just had the warmest decade in recorded history.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has a zip code lookup tool to help illustrate the carbon benefits:

In part two of my blog, I will illustrate what the states and utilities are doing to support EV adoption and how we are working with them to expand the network and infrastructure of EV charging stations. 

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