Vermont is racing to meet its own electric vehicle targets

By HABIB SABET

VTDigger

Published: 01-16-2024 2:38 AM

State transportation officials told legislators last week that Vermont’s electric vehicle transition has made substantial headway in recent years but still has a long way to go to meet its goals.

Vermont currently leads the country in efforts toward electrification of the transportation sector, according to data shared by officials based on a study conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council, which compared states based on their charging infrastructure, incentives and emissions requirements.

Still, the Green Mountain State is lagging behind its targets.

As of October, there were just under 11,000 plug-in EVs registered in the state, David Roberts, a consultant for the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, told the House Transportation Committee on Wednesday.

But meeting state emissions goals for the transportation sector would require that there be about 27,000 plug-in EVs registered in Vermont by 2025 (including plug-in hybrids) and 126,000 by 2030, Roberts said.

Roughly 10% of new vehicle registrations in the state each year come from EVs, he said. But that needs to pass 15% by 2025 and 68% by 2030 for Vermont to meet its stated targets.

“We have ambitious goals considering where we’re at today,” Roberts told legislators Wednesday. “There’s a lot of opportunity to advance toward those goals, but they’re going to be challenging to hit, and we certainly can’t rest on our laurels if we’re going to have any hopes of reaching them.”

The Green Mountain State’s push to shift to electric transportation is one of the main features of the state’s 2021 Climate Action Plan, which provides a path for the state to meet its ambitious greenhouse gas emissions goals as outlined in Vermont’s 2020 Global Warming Solutions Act.

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Under that law, Vermont pledged to reduce greenhouse gas pollution to 26% below 2005 levels by 2025, 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

In an attempt to meet those targets, the state has introduced a slew of incentive programs in recent years on top of existing federal incentives to encourage Vermonters to go electric.

The state programs include Replace Your Ride program, which grants $3,000 to drivers who give in old cars that use fossil fuels, and the MileageSmart program, which offers Vermonters up to $5,000 to buy a used plug-in EV or hybrid.

Last year, the Legislature updated many of those programs with the goal of expanding access for Vermonters while introducing the Electrify Your Fleet initiative, an incentive program aimed at commercial industries in Vermont looking to go electric.