Tag Archives: central mainepower

Electric Vehicles, Coal & Dirty Electricity

Coal in Stocking

Since it is the Holiday Season, and some traditions continue, such as busting PEVs because they allegedly use dirty electricity and can’t then be zero emission, I include this brief op-ed from last week for your reading pleasure.  The final take away is simple- where you live and how your local utilities get their electricity do play a role in how clean your PEV runs and since most states increasingly support alternative forms of renewable energy, your PEV will likely continue to get cleaner.  So enjoy the season and stop feeling guilty!

Tuesday’s Portland Press Herald Article by Seth Borenstein, titled, “For electric cars, it’s not simple to be green,” offers outdated and misguided commentary on the issue of “dirty” electricity and whether electric vehicles are more of a problem than a solution when it comes to transportation-based emissions.  As a study released by the Union of Concerned Scientists in 2012, “State of Charge; Electric Vehicles Global Warming Emissions and Fuel-cost Savings across the United States” concluded, EVs are vastly superior in their emission profiles over most regions of the US.  It boils down to where the electricity comes from.  If you live in the Wyoming where coal is used for base load generation, your EV does contribute to GHG emissions on a par with a combustion engine.  That is one reason why coal-fired power plants are no longer viable for electricity generation and are being moth-balled.  Conversely, if you live in Maine, with an increasingly healthy mix of renewable energy generation sources, including wind, tidal, hydro, solar and biomass and the cleanest grid in New England, operating your electric vehicle is much less carbon intense than your neighbor’s gas-powered car.  The good news is most states, like Maine, have a renewable portfolio standard that has resulted in ongoing efforts to clean up their electricity generation, so an EV actually drives cleaner the longer you own it!  That is not true of your gasoline vehicle.  Mr. Borenstein chooses to highlight the coal connection rather than the clean connection.  I leave you with the final sentence of the PNAS study quoted by Mr. Borenstein, which reads, “Consideration of potential climate change impacts alongside the human health outcomes described here further reinforces the environmental preferability of EVs powered by low-emitting electricity relative to gasoline vehicles.” (Emphasis added).

Maine, and all the New England states, should be proud of their efforts to promote clean electricity and their EV-owners can drive with clear consciences.

Follow this link to go to my actual op-ed.

Maine begins to Transform its Transportation Sector


(Sara Burns, President of Central Maine Power, shares the ribbon cutting at the South Portland Community Center with Bob D’Orval of Nissan NA- July 24, 2014. Left to right 2d row- Travis Kennedy- Staff for Sen. Angus King, South Portland Mayor Jerry Jalbert, Greg Cunningham- Staff Attorney Conservation Law Foundation, Adam Lebel- Staff Attorney Environment Northeast, Phil Coupe- Founder ReVision Energy)

Despite some political headwinds in the state, Maine has an active group of environmental and clean tech stakeholders pushing EVs and charging station technology and capturing positive media.  Yesterday the first two large public charging clusters in Maine, each with a donated Nissan DCQC, both purposefully centered in its urban core, were unveiled before a broad audience at the South Portland Community Center.  The product of nearly a year long EV Pilot effort funded by a $100,000 matching grant program through Central Maine Power‘s rate payers and a working group comprised of the Natural Resource Council of Maine, Conservation Law Foundation, Environment Northeast, ReVision Energy and Grid Solar, the program is being administered by an informal group called the Maine EV Alliance, comprised of Barry Woods, an EV advocate and Attorney, the American Lung Association of the Northeast and Plug In America. Focusing in making a localized proof of concept in the Greater Portland area to display the technology to its citizens, the program will have generated an additional investment of over $150,000 toward vehicles and infrastructure.

The pilot has awarded matching grants for over ten vehicles, including three local governments- Portland, Scarborough and Standish, three large employers- ecomaine, Tilson Tech and Kepware, and four small business owners- Green Clean Maine, The Sunrise Guide, Portland House of Pizza and Bard Coffee.  In addition two workplace charging clusters at IDEXX and Hannaford Bros are in the process of being installed.  But yesterday the light shown most brightly on the Public Chargers located at the Fore Street Garage and the South Portland Community Center. Over a hundred attendees came to view and drive cars, four local car dealers brought product and expertise (Bill Dodge with a BMW i3, Pape and Quirk Chevrolet with Volts, and Lee Auto Group with a Toyota Plug in Prius and Nissan LEAF).

As the rain blew past, revealing blue skies, I could not help but feel gratitude for the many who came to celebrate and who worked to make this project a reality.  It was especially striking to have the site located a block from South Portland’s oil terminals and tank farm and to have this ceremony occur only a day after the South Portland city council voted against allowing tar sand oil be brought into the city.  While saying “no” to bad ideas is important, it’s also important to be able to say “yes” to something.  EVs are that positive solution to the oil addiction that is killing us and robbing us of our community resources.  Yesterday, two people at the event told me they would buy EVs after driving them.  Two down, and a few more to go!