Society’s transition to electric drive is picking up speed, judging by numerous regional projects related to electric vehicles (EVs).
EV drivers and want-to-be EV drivers across New Hampshire are communicating with each other on a new NHEV listserv and starting to harness the political clout of the EV-driving public. Ford Motor Company delivered one of the first Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup trucks in the nation to the City of Lebanon, N.H. in September for use by city staff. Maine is becoming a leader in available fast-charging stations. Electric school buses are rolling into Vermont and Maine. Some will be part of a pilot project testing the benefits of vehicle-to-grid technology, in which some electricity in the bus batteries is fed back into the electrical grid at strategic times of day and then replaced at lower-cost times.
In New Hampshire, EV drivers and supporters can subscribe to the new NHEV listserv at https://groups.google.com/g/nhev to communicate with each other, post used EVs for sale, and strategize on projects to promote the transition to electric drive. In this election year, NHEV drivers realized they could speak up for the owners of more than 4,800 EVs and plug-in hybrid EVs that were registered in the state as of 2020. They are creating a questionnaire for political candidates, whose responses will be used to create an “EV Scorecard” to help inform voters.
Dozens of curious people stopped by Lebanon’s display of its new Ford F-150 Lightning EV truck at the Lebanon Farmers Market on September 1. Kids enjoyed climbing into the open “frunk” – the front trunk, which is 14 cubic feet of extra space where an internal combustion engine would be in a non-electric truck. Adults often murmured surprise and approval of the relatively reasonable cost of the Lightning, which Lebanon bought for approximately $43,000.
The Lightning comes with 426 horsepower, all-wheel drive, a payload capacity of 2,000 pounds, and a towing capacity of 7,700 pounds. Placed around the truck are ten 120-volt electric outlets for plugging in equipment, one 240-volt outlet, two 12-volt outlets, and eight USB ports. The truck accelerates from zero to 60 miles per hour in five seconds, has a range of 230 miles on a full charge, and charges up from 15% full to 100% full in 40 to90 minutes on a fast charger or overnight (10 hours) on a Level 2 charger.
The State of Maine fast is becoming a good place to find a public fast charger that serves EVs other than Teslas, which have their own fast-charging network. Using funding provided by Volkswagen in a legal settlement over fraud charges, Maine has powered up or started construction on 14 DC Fast Charging (DCFC) stations, according to ReVision Energy, which helped install the chargers. These include two of the first public very-fast DCFC chargers capable of delivering 150 kW, at Main Turnpike’s Kennebunk and West Gardiner service plazas. Older DCFC fast chargers delivered up to 50 kW. Maine plans to install more fast chargers in anticipation of federal infrastructure funding.
A few short minutes after Maine activated its fast chargers at Kennebunk North service plaza, a brand-new Proterra/Thomas electric school bus rolled out of the build factory of WC Cressey and Son in Kennebunkport and pulled in to charge, said eye witness Dan Robinson, a project manager for ReVision Energy. After charging up, the bus headed to the next DCFC charger at the Skowhegan Hannaford on the way to its destination of Old Town, ME.
The Volkswagen legal settlement also is funding four EV school buses for the Burlington, VT. School District plus DC fast chargers for them. These aren’t your average EV buses and chargers, though. In a pilot project coordinated with Green Mountain Power, the bus batteries will send some of their stored power to the electrical grid during outages through bidirectional vehicle-to-grid technology, the district’s director of operations and finance, Gary Marckres, said in a webinar about electric school buses.
Green Mountain Power may tap the bus battery power during peak-load times of day to reduce its need for high-priced electricity in those hours from New England’s Regional Network Service. The school district would be given a credit on its utility bill based on the avoided expense, and the buses would be recharged when more and cheaper electricity is available, Green Mount Power’s Emily Eckert explained in the webinar.
Separately, Green Mountain Power replaced one of its aging heavy-duty field maintenance team trucks in Rutland with a Lion EV stake body truck that has a 200-mile range. The utility also has an EV line truck on order. Combined, these should eliminate 100 tons of carbon emissions per year plus a virtual ton of noise and will include vehicle-to-grid technology, Green Mountain Power’s Tiana Smith said in a press release.
Not to be outdone, the summer parade in Londonderry, N.H. featured an electric garbage truck which has been used around town.
News items like these and many more paint a picture of Americans putting the pedal to the metal in the transition to electric drive. Now, if only automakers can keep up with demand.
Sherry Boschert is a co-founder of Plug In America and author of a new book on a different topic, 37 Words: Title IX and Fifty Years of Fighting Sex Discrimination (The New Press, 2022).