Letter: The Role of Electric Vehicles
To the Editor:
Electric vehicles that operate exclusively on electricity can reduce owners’ energy costs by up to 75 percent while at the same time being significantly less expensive to maintain. But their most important benefit is the huge difference they will make in our fight to curb climate change. Right now, Vermont gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles produce about 44 percent of Vermont’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Annually, this amounts to about 3.54 million metric tons of those emissions pumped annually into Vermont’s atmosphere, thus contributing significantly to climate change. Electric vehicles can change that.
Using Green Mountain Power’s anticipated 2013 energy sources (GMP supplies about 77 percent of Vermont’s energy) as an approximation for all Vermont’s sources as it relates to greenhouse gases, about 81.2 percent are carbon-free or carbon-neutral (hydro, 48.8 percent; wind and solar, 11 percent; nuclear 15.2 percent; and biofuels, 6.2 percent).
That means that for an electric vehicle charged in Vermont, approximately 81.2 percent of its energy is carbon-free or neutral. That’s huge! These numbers make it very clear that any serious attempt to curb climate change must involve greatly expanded use of electric vehicles, along with the infrastructure needed to support them, and a major expansion in Vermont’s carbon-free energy production, primarily wind and solar.
This is no time for moratoriums on wind or solar energy. If studies need to be made, they should be invested in developing technologies to reduce the short-term impacts of installation. But these should be made in parallel with ongoing renewable-energy installations, not as a means of delaying them. Cost effective wind turbines need to be installed where the wind is best — predominantly on Vermont’s ridgelines.
Climate change is our most urgent and overarching environmental challenge – threatening the health of Vermont, the nation and the planet far into the future. It should be treated as such.
Delay is not a sane option.