Tag Archives: Plug In America

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!



Time to Join the Party: Early Data on Plug in Adoption and Industry Investment

By choosing to employ regulatory streamlining and supportive policies and incentives on consumer deployment and in-state industry development, Oregon and California now have evidence that those dollars leverage high economic value.

In late 2009 in Oregon, a few EV oriented businesses, manufacturers and professionals created an industry cluster in a third floor conference room of the Portland Development Commission, and concocted a strategy to harness state funds to promote its development.   Now called Drive Oregon, the group convinced the Oregon Innovation Council of its value and successfully lobbied state legislators to invest $1.2m of state funding at a time when the state’s budget left many lawmakers on the retreat, cutting public safety measures and teacher salaries.  The pitch, that Oregon needed to have a means of fueling its EV industry cluster’s growth and have a conduit for federal and private grants funding alternative fuel technologies, was persuasive but not without great uncertainty.  Should Oregon gamble on using state funds to fuel development in a sector that many, even today, dismiss as doomed to fail?  Recently the Northwest Economic Research Center (“NERC”) released the results of its first study designed to define what companies constitute Oregon’s EV cluster and measure its strength and economic impacts.

Tom Potiowsky, director of NERC and former Oregon state economist, concluded that: “Our research indicates that the electric vehicle industry generates gross economic activity of $266.56 million, total value added of nearly $148 million and provides more than $89 million in total employee compensation.  The industry continued to grow during the Great Recession, while other transportation industries suffered enormous losses.”

NERC estimated that EV economic activity created a ripple effect, adding 1169 jobs to the economy in addition to the 411 full-time EV jobs.  Tax revenue to the state amounted to $11.9m and $20.8m to the federal authorities.   More importantly, in a little over a year DriveOregon has gotten over forty businesses to join the cluster and leveraged over $2.5 million dollars to date through its matching grants program.

Why has the EV industry taken root in Oregon?  Sophisticated local demand may explain some of this phenomena, a population given to a willingness to try new things for the benefit of themselves and the planet.    Oregon’s skilled workforce, supportive legislative and regulatory policy atmosphere, and a diffuse EV industry structure involved in manufacturing of different types of EVs, parts and components all contribute to its health. But it is more.  It took impassioned individuals and courageous political leadership.

What of the other side of the coin- deployment? What benefits might be achieved through a state’s aggressive measures to foster consumer purchasing of PEVs?

In the UCal-Berkeley study released in September 2012, titled, “Plug-In Electric Vehicle Deployment in California: An Economic Assessment”, focused on providing an economic assessment of the state’s accelerated deployment of PEVs.   Its author, David Roland-Holst, who employs a long-term economic forecasting model, concludes that:

-Light duty vehicle electrification can be a catalyst for economic growth, contributing up to 100,000 additional jobs [in California] by 2030.

-On average, a dollar saved at the gas pump and spent on other goods and services that households want creates 16 times more jobs. (Yes, read that again).

-The majority of the new demand financed by PEV fuel cost savings goes to in-state services.

Individual Californians gain from economic growth associated with fuel cost savings due to EVs, whether they buy a new car or not. Average real wages and employment increase across the economy and incomes grow faster for low-income groups than for higher-income groups.

(Emphasis added.)

In essence the type of savings achieved through PEV adoption are quite different than those expenditures on the fossil fuel supply chain, creating stronger multiplier effects on state product and job creation and providing a positive net value to those states that adopt them.  PEV-related transportation efficiency also stimulates job creation across all economic activities, not just in the  “green collar” sector, through this expenditure shifting phenomenon.  Quite simply, “a dollar saved on traditional energy is a dollar earned by 10-100 times as many new workers.” (p.17)

The importance of these studies should not be underestimated.  They add yet another analytic block to the foundation supporting the business case for society’s investment in PEV technology and adoption and, perhaps most importantly, for the ongoing political support of policies designed to assist its rapid ascent.  When read in conjunction, these studies make clear that we have ever more to gain by the acceptance of EVs then “just” GHG reduction, balancing the grid, and a better driving experience.   We have local jobs to gain and, with them, hope for a sustainable energy future.  For California and Oregon, the gamble appears to be paying off.  Can other parts of the country afford to not to invest in a technology sector whose odds get more favorable all the time?