Legislation proposes that all new cars sold in Rhode Island by 2030 be electric


PROVIDENCE — If you want to buy a car in 10 years, your only local option might be electric.

Under legislation (S2448) introduced by Sen. Alana DiMario, D-North Kingstown, all new cars sold or leased in Rhode Island by 2030 would have to be electric vehicles. The bill also establishes a framework for determining the infrastructure needed to charge electric vehicles and creates an environmental justice council.

“We know this transition has to happen and we need a strategy and a plan to get there, DiMario said. “By 2030, every Rhode Islander buying a new car should be able to go electric without worrying about where they’re going to charge.”

It’s how manufacturers move, according to Mal Skowron, transportation and policy coordinator for the Green Energy Consumers Alliance.

“Honda, General Motors and Volvo plan not to sell gas-powered cars in the next 20 years,” she said. “It’s not about whether electric vehicles are coming to Rhode Island, do drivers want these cars. It’s about how fast they’re going to come and how we can use these electric vehicles to reach our climate goals.

Rhode Island desperately needs programs to address emissions from the transportation sector. Vehicles are Rhode Island’s largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitter, accounting for 35% of all state emissions according to the latest Department of Environmental Management (DEM) emissions inventory.

And statewide emissions are rising. DEM reported earlier this year that overall GHG emissions rose 8.2% in 2018 according to its latest data, putting Rhode Island’s emissions 1.8% higher than they were in 1990.

The data shows that Rhode Island is currently failing the first term benchmark – 10% lower than 1990 climate emissions – established by the Climate Act last year. State reports also have the added twist of a three-year delay, meaning Rhode Island officials and the public won’t be notified of the likely 2020 failure until 2023 at the earliest, far too late. to change course.

Rhode Island was a key member of the Transportation & Climate Initiative – a regional cap and invest program that would have reduced emissions from the transportation sector while raising much-needed funds for green energy projects – and the latest member is went to the local altar when the neighboring states of Massachusetts and Connecticut refused to codify the program into law, citing soaring gas prices.

Rhode Island now has no plan to reduce emissions from the transportation sector.

Brian Moran, director of government affairs for the New England Convenience Store and Energy Marketers Association, told lawmakers last week that the lobby group favors voluntary incentives for fleet electrification and consumer adoption.

“I imagine the mandates are a bit unrealistic right now,” Moran said. “Rhode Island has the worst electric vehicle adoption rates in the country. It’s a nascent and embryonic industry right now.

Moran also took aim at DiMario’s complementary legislation for new medium and heavy-duty vehicles to have net zero emissions by 2050.

“For heavy trucks, it’s still a proof of concept,” he said. “We are concerned about the highway and the inflationary pressure this bill could exert. Everything in this room is transported by truck.

But the future is much closer than proof of concept. The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) recently entered into a pilot program, spending $2.5 million to lease three electric buses to operate the R-Line, a bus route from Washington Park to Pawtucket. According to The Providence Journal, the pilot program had mixed results, with each bus battery charge only lasting about 100 miles in the cold, as opposed to the 300-mile range per charge originally advertised.

RIPTA has ordered 14 new electric buses to replace aging diesels, with an expected delivery date later this year. The agency also announced that it would install on-road chargers to compensate for the lack of autonomy of its electric fleet.

Heavy trucks – vehicles weighing more than 8,500 pounds – are on the way. Last week, Swedish start-up Volta Trucks announced that it would deploy 100 of its Class 7 trucks to Los Angeles next year. These electric heavy trucks have a range of 95 to 125 miles per charge and are designed for urban logistics and not for long trips through the American countryside.

Meanwhile, Rhode Island let heavy-duty vehicle emissions go unchecked for more than 20 years, after passing legislation to clamp them down. As ecoRI News reported last year, the state’s heavy-duty emissions program remains in development, 18 years after it was implemented.

Heavy vehicles represent 5% of national traffic, but account for 20% of all transport emissions.


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