Electric vehicles (EVs) are vehicles that use electric motors for propulsion and have the potential for significant environmental impact with regard to reducing Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions, the largest contributor to global warming. With a heightened attention on “energy independence” and awareness of the effects of transportation on global warming, demand for electric vehicles is projected to rise rapidly over the next several decades. Researchers have found various ways to understand the “well-to-wheels” impact, which despite involving emissions at the source of electricity generation, still show environmental advantages over conventional fuel vehicles. Given the early lifecycle stage of this technology, the uncertainty of climate implications, and political support behind industry growth, some questions in this landscape are: What are the critical factors that will help encourage consumer adoption of electric vehicles? How do public entities marry their own climate action goals with what is happening in the marketplace for EV infrastructure? What can institutions like the University of Massachusetts Amherst learn from those who are paving the way?
This paper seeks to identify the ideal Electric Vehicle policy for UMass to adopt to align with the goals of its Climate Action Plan. Pursuing a pilot program on campus requires an assessment and integration of the opportunities and barriers to installing electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE), the various options for equipment ownership and operations, and the policies that the University could adopt in order to encourage and enable the use of electric vehicles by faculty, staff, students and visitors. The evaluation elements necessary to determine a scalable solution for affordable charging stations at UMass can also be useful for successful rollouts on other campuses.
Undergirding the recommendations for UMass are an analysis of sales and usage models for electric vehicles to project adoption rates on campus and interviews with representatives from universities and municipalities about what they have learned from their investment in EV infrastructure. Understanding state laws about the resale of electricity as well as what consumers might pay for it direct how to charge consumers for the use of a charging station. Assessing commute patterns and comparing emissions with and without EVs help situate whether or not deploying EV stations are on par with other sustainability efforts on campus to meet the goals of the Climate Action Plan.
The findings show that EV growth will be steady, but still only make up between .36% and .66% of all light duty vehicles on U.S. roads by 2020. While battery technology is expected to decline, the high upfront cost of an EV will drive consumers to seek the lowest cost to “plug in;” private and public entities looking to deploy EVSEs for environmental and political reasons must balance the desire to encourage adoption with the price they will charge. Further, many public entities face the challenges that involve forgoing premium parking space revenue and negotiating internally who pays for the installation, maintenance and operations.
The recommendations of this analysis include UMass purchasing, installing and operating an EV charging station. For EVSEs located in public access lots, UMass could reasonably charge $1-2 per hour. Parking Services should offer a 20-50% discount on permits for EV drivers, in addition to premium parking spaces.