Spotlight on the climate: the time for electric vehicles has arrived! | Columnists

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BILL MANTIEGA

Dry lakes, prolonged heat waves, wildfires, extreme storms and floods – climate change is upon us. If we want to mitigate or slow climate change, we must act now. The way we move is a good place to start.

In the United States, transportation is our biggest producer of greenhouse gas emissions. Last year, we had 289 million combustion engine (CV) vehicles on our roads, producing 1.9 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions. A rapid transition to electric vehicles (EVs) will help reduce this impact.

Several factors combine to make EV times now. The variety of EVs sold is booming, the range of EVs continues to increase, the cost continues to drop compared to combustion vehicles (CVs), EVs are cheaper to operate, and the grid becomes growing cleaner, especially here in northern Arizona.

It’s not just Tesla anymore. Currently, there are about 110 electric vehicle models to choose from. You can even buy an EV pickup if that’s your preference. The Ford F150 Lightning sells for just over $40,000, which is less than a lot of combustion pickups do. Ask your dealer about extended financial incentives that will further reduce the cost of your electric vehicle.

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Advances in battery technology have increased the average range of electric vehicles sold last year to 250 miles, which is more than enough for occasional, medium-distance trips. The 2022 Lucid Air EV being built in Phoenix has a range of 520 miles. For longer trips, there are already more than 100,000 public charging stations in the United States, and the 2021 National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program is now providing $7.5 billion to build charging stations in rural communities and every 50 miles along all interstate corridors. The new level 3 charging stations can charge a vehicle in about 20 minutes.

Europe, India, South Korea, UK, Canada and Japan will phase out all combustion vehicles by 2035. California recently passed a bill requiring the phasing out of CVs by 2035. It is likely that 12 more states will follow. Major car manufacturers are also making these changes. Cadillac said it will be fully electric by 2030, General Motors by 2035 and Ford by 2040.

Of course, electric vehicles are only as clean as the source of electricity they use. If everything came from burning coal, there would be little benefit. Renewables are already cleaning up the grid. In Arizona, more than 40% of our electricity already comes from non-fossil fuel sources. APS (Arizona’s main electricity provider) has set a goal to be 65% clean by 2030 and 100% fossil free by 2050. Is that early enough to save our climate ? Probably not, so we must continue to “encourage” them to act quickly.

Northern Arizona is on a fast track to renewable energy. We already have 226 megawatts (MW) of wind power near Flagstaff. 241 MW of clean energy is currently being built by Babbitt Ranches. 477 MW of wind power is being installed near Winslow and Babbitt Ranches plans to build an additional 480 MW of clean power by 2024. That 1,424 MW of wind and solar power is enough to power more than 420,000 households and several thousand electric vehicles.

Electric vehicles are also cheaper to operate. For example, a combustion-powered Ford F150 costs around $0.20/mile, while an electric Ford F150 Lightning costs just $0.06/mile. This is not only because electricity is cheaper than gas, but also because the maintenance costs of electric vehicles are much lower. They have fewer moving parts, the motor is not oil lubricated, and electric motors are much more efficient than combustion engines.

Is it enough for each of us to convert to EV? Of course not. Many institutions have large fleets of combustion vehicles with large carbon footprints. While some institutions have electrification goals, none are moving fast enough to meet approved emissions reduction goals in the cities of Flagstaff and Sedona.

The Northern Arizona Climate Change Alliance (NAZCCA) has launched “Fleet Electrification NOW!” campaign to encourage all institutions in northern Arizona to convert to electric vehicles as soon as possible. If you have not yet signed the petition, please sign it now at www.NAZCCA.org/ev-now.

Bill Manteiga, Data Analytics Consultant; Northern Arizona Climate Change Alliance, www.NAZCCA.org/volunteer

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