A West Virginia interstate road trip this time of year is always fun. There’s nothing better than watching the green, yellow, orange, and red spots on the leaves as you feel the wind winding your way over mountains and rivers.
However, I recently learned that electric vehicle owners in other states may be reluctant to see such an amazing sight because West Virginia lacks a robust charging infrastructure. I did.
Range anxiety is the fear when driving an EV that your battery will run out during a road trip and you won’t be able to find a charger to refill it. Half of drivers say a lack of charging stations is a deterrent to switching to an EV.
A recent NPR article about the challenges of road tripping in today’s EV environment highlights that West Virginia is at a particular disadvantage.
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to visit EV charging station suppliers and installers in West Virginia, along with other members of my city’s environmental committee. Representatives from the company shared similar sentiments with NPR reporters, but analyzed it more simply. Without fast, easily accessible EV charging facilities in West Virginia cities, we will lose out on tourists, pass-through visitors, and the money they bring in.with them
As a mid-Atlantic state, we are too well placed to pass up the opportunity to attract EV owners.
In addition to economic incentives for West Virginia and local governments, there are also health and environmental benefits that encourage a concerted effort to build a strong EV charging system. First and foremost, of course, is reducing carbon emissions by switching to electric vehicles. EV and climate change skeptics will point out that when you charge an EV in West Virginia, the electricity is likely coming from fossil fuels. As stated in the previous comment, it’s true. However, this is not always the case. Renewable energy and battery storage are on the rise because they are cheaper, more efficient, and have less negative impact on the environment. Coal production and generation will not be king forever. So despite the fact that the majority of our electricity will come from coal for the foreseeable future (thank you West Virginia Public Service Commission), charge your EV now so you don’t catch up when EV ownership takes off. It is necessary to lay the foundation for reinforcement. Soar.
The direct health benefit of EVs compared to gasoline cars is that they have no tailpipe emissions. Traffic air pollution from living next to busy roads is associated with multiple negative health effects. A study published earlier this year found that adding just 20 additional zero-emission vehicles per 1,000 people could lead to a reduction in asthma-related emergency hospitalizations. EVs can literally save lives by reducing the burden on health.
Two other specters that EV and climate change skeptics like to raise are sticker shock and battery mining. There’s no denying that EVs are expensive. But it’s not just EVs that can make you a lot of money. The average new car price has increased by $10,000 since 2020. However, the cost of EVs is decreasing as companies scale up and improve technology and production. And thanks to the Inflation Control Act of 2022, the EV buyer could receive a rebate of $7,500. Starting in January, that rebate will switch from a tax rebate to an in-store discount, meaning new EV buyers will receive $7,500 the same day they pull their vehicle off the lot.
EVs and batteries require large quantities of critical miners such as cobalt and lithium, and the mining of these minerals can pose a risk to human health and the environment if not properly regulated. But extracting critical minerals is still better for the planet and our health than producing oil, gas or coal. As the tide turns in favor of more EV production and ownership, manufacturers will not only find ways to improve the mining process, but also ensure that electric vehicle production continues to rely on unions.
There is another important reason why local governments should invest in EV charging infrastructure, which not only benefits tourism, but also why they need to ensure that renters and low-income households are not excluded from the solar energy market. It’s similar to Currently, EVs make more sense for homeowners to purchase than renters. Most charging now happens at home because homeowners have garages and driveways and can install chargers at home. But renters will have a hard time convincing landlords to install EV chargers in their buildings. People who live in rental homes or apartment complexes need easy access to EV charging so they can enjoy the lower lifetime costs of EVs compared to gasoline-powered vehicles.
Earlier this year, the federal government launched the first wave of a grant program to encourage cities and counties to deploy more charging stations in rural and urban areas, with more funding on the way. West Virginia cities will need to take advantage of these funding opportunities. EV charging infrastructure is just one part of the new green economy. By investing now, West Virginia can ensure that we don’t get left behind as other states invest in cleaner neighborhoods and healthier communities.
Quenton King is from the state’s eastern panhandle. He works in environmental policy.