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End of the Year Recap and Proposals

New Hampshire’s 2018 National Drive Electric Week events. The biggest ever!  Image: Jon Gundersen.

Randy Bryan

And while we are at year’s end, it is a good time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished and make plans for where we should go. Drive Electric NH (DE-NH) has had a busy year in our roles as expert on and as promoter of electric transportation.

  1. Drive Electric NH is a named participant in the NH Senate SB 517 Commission to guide the legislature on the issues and best practices for the mushrooming presence of electric cars, especially the smartest way to use the funds allocated to NH from the Volkswagen Settlement Funds. What expertise there is in NH on electric vehicles meets periodically as the Senate Commission. Many of the organizations on the Senate Commission are also members of Drive Electric NH. The result is a network of organizations and experts that have multiple forums to discuss issues, ideas, and settle on common solutions and goals. While the Commission’s work proceeds slowly, it seems to be well guided.
  2. A second area of progress is in public education on electric vehicles (EVs). This comes in the form of ride-drive events which have proven to be the most effective way to educate and motivate people to go electric. DE-NH has grown from four public ride-drive events with approximately 400 visitors in 2017 to twelve events and about 1200 visitors in 2018.
  3. A third area of progress for NH, independent of DE-NH, is the availability of Volkswagen Settlement funds for investment into cleaner trucks and better charging infrastructure. The NH government’s Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI) is responsible to spend the money wisely, per the fund requirements. NH Division of Environmental Services (DES) and DOT are heavily involved in crafting and implementing the spending plan. Various DE-NH member organizations are involved. This should result in the beginnings of a competent fast-charger network around NH. The presence of this fast-charging network should eliminate the range anxiety issue from NH EV buyers and EV tourists.
  4. A fourth area of progress for NH is in the growth of EV sales. For those who recognize EVs on the road, driving has been a lot more rewarding. 2018 will see a doubling of EVs sold in NH vs 2017(>1500 plug-in EVs vs 788).

Where do we go from here? The simple answer for 2019 is MORE.

The Senate Commission will likely accelerate its work, and I hope the first dollop of Volkswagen funds will be spent wisely.

More EV events should make more people aware of the pleasures of owning an EV. NH’s city and town energy committees have shown an interest to organize and stage EV events. Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign is gathering more supporting cities and towns and embracing clean transportation.

What needs new initiatives?

  • Corporate, municipal and fleet participation needs a push. The Volkswagen money will help for fleet-heavy truck purchases, but the car and light truck areas need their own push. Similarly, workplace charging needs attention. Corporations might encourage and sponsor EV events, too.
  • Public education and awareness for EVs. For example, Maine has sponsored a series of upbeat generic EV advertisements on the radio that everybody hears. Public EV charging signage on the streets and highways might make more people aware of the growing EV presence. There are charging stations around NH, but no signage like there is for gas stations.
  • EV supply and focus at the dealership and manufacturer level. Very few NH dealerships have adequate supply of EVs to sell or knowledge of how to sell them. MA, VT and ME (zero-emission vehicle mandate states) all have great supply, but not NH. Buying EVs from out of state has become common. The predictions are for the EV sales to nearly double each year for the next few years. We need to get ready.

Want to Help? Contact Drive Electric NH at 603-26-4732 or www.drivelelectricnh.org.

Randy Bryan is one of the co-founders of Drive Electric NH. Randy has been an advocate for electric cars for eight-plus years. His company, ConVerdant Vehicles, has converted vehicles to plug-in hybrids, including his own Prius in 2008, and developed and sold inverters that turn a Prius into an emergency generator.

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