Connecticut speeds towards clean future

Connecticut is speeding toward a more environmentally friendly future with a new multi-state initiative to cut down on transportation emissions.

Last week, the state of Connecticut, along with seven other states, pledged to put 3.3 million clean, environmentally friendly cars on the roads by 2025. The state plans to construct electrical charging stations and find other ways to encourage citizens to drive electric cars or use other forms of clean transportation.

“This initiative is consistent with Connecticut’s Comprehensive Energy Strategy and our focus on providing cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable power for our residents and businesses,” Governor Daniel P. Malloy said in a statement.

Emissions from cars are one of the major sources of greenhouse gases and air pollution, according to DEEP spokesman Dennis Schain. Transportation currently accounts for 28 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in America according to data from the EPA. Connecticut has adopted a comprehensive energy strategy, Schain said, and transportation is one of the main focuses of that strategy.

The new initiative aims to make the state’s transportation infrastructure more enviornmentally friendly by setting up a network of charging stations around the state, said Daniel Etsy, the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and a Yale Law Professor on leave.

Etsy spoke of the need to alleviate “range anxiety” caused when those with electric cars are concerned that charging stations will be too far away, by setting up electric vehicle charging stations within 10 or 15 minutes of each other.“It’s kind of like if you were the first person to have a telephone, it wouldn’t do you any good,” commented Eli Fenichel, Assistant Proffessor at the School of the Environment and Forestry. According to Fenichel, the new plan of creating a network of charging stations is crucial to encouraging consumers to buy into the electric car industry. The “Zero-emission” vehicles that the state wants to put on the roads include battery-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel-cell-electric vehicles. These technologies can be used in passenger cars, trucks and transit buses, according to a DEEP press release.

But the “zero emission” vehicles that today’s technology can produce are usually not completely zero-emmission.

The ‘zero’ in ZEV refers to tailpipe emissions. This means that for battery electric ZEVs, the ultimate environmental impact depends on how clean the power plants are that create the electricity to charge the battery, Shain said in an e-mail to the News. According to Shain, the same can be said for hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles as well, which he touted as the “long game’ for the ZEV program.

The plan is also an economic boon for the state. Electricity is the most widely available source of power and typically costs about two-thirds less than gasoline on a per-mile basis, according to a press release on the agreement by the DEEP. By 2025, the average zero-emission vehicle driver will save nearly $6,000 in fueling costs over the life of the car, the press release said.

The new plan is all about creating, “Cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable energy for the state of Connecticut,” Etsy said. He added that it was exciting to see Connecticut leading the ways toward a transformed energy future that will give citizens more options and opportunities for clean methods of transportation.

Collectively, the eight signatory states represent more than 23 percent of the U.S. car market, and expect to have at least 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles operating on their roadways by that time, according to the DEEP.

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