Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) make up only .5% of the vehicles in Ohio.
Not the most auspicious statistic but according to experts watching the U.S. electric car market, growth is coming. For the past few years, PEVs have been popular in heavily urbanized areas among consumers with higher education and wealth, especially in California. With more used electric cars hitting the market at reduced prices, more consumers are getting the opportunity to switch to PEVs.
Add to that Tesla’s new Model 3 starting at $35,000 and Nissan’s Leaf starting at $30,000, and consumers start paying attention —especially after hurricane Irma sent gasoline prices spiking by 25¢ per gallon. In fact, electric vehicle sales are expected to rise 50% this year over 2016 and will most likely continue to grow as battery technology improves.
That trend isn’t lost on local governments or utilities. Both see new opportunities in building charging stations in busy downtown locations.
For example, in Lakewood, OH, a suburb of Cleveland, the mayor sees downtown charging stations as a way to attract “an enlightened customer base” to visit downtown. He’s currently trying to figure out a way for the city to buy 6 or more $3,000 stations and partner with local businesses to pay for the electricity.
AEP Ohio, meanwhile, has recently proposed a $21.2 million Smart City Rider to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). AEP wants to increase the average Columbus electricity rate by adding an average of 50¢ to the monthly bill to help fund the deployment of 300 charging stations in Columbus as part of the city’s Smart City Challenge grant that it won last year from the U.S. DOT. About 90 charging stations would be for public use. Of those, 75 would be fast-charging stations. Some may be sited near highway exits for recharges during long commutes. If approved by PUCO, the rate increase would last for four years.
According to EPA figures, the transportation sector produced 27% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2015 . Of that, 60% came from light duty vehicles. Increasing the number of electric vehicles on the road will reduce the production of greenhouse gasses as well as other pollutants effecting Ohio’s air quality.