Electric vehicles on the rise in Tahoe-Truckee region | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Electric vehicles on the rise in Tahoe-Truckee region

Autumn Whitney
Seven electric vehicles charge at the El Dorado County offices. There are currently 30 charging stations in the Tahoe-Truckee planning region.
Courtesy / Dave Johnston |

The Tahoe-Truckee Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) Readiness Plan is underway. After receiving a grant in April 2015, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency began the formal process that November to work toward implementing a plan to increase the number of PEVs in the area. The Readiness Plan identifies, reduces and resolves barriers to the spreading of PEV infrastructure and step one is complete — the existing conditions report was released Monday, June 20.

“We’re in the process of examining current availability of charging stations and the current amount of electric vehicles owned by residents,” said Devin Middlebrook, TRPA’s sustainable communities program coordinator of long-range and transportation planning. “We’re looking at the charging stations, where they’re located, public or private, and then creating a plan to fill in the gaps.”

The report analyzed the current situation of PEVs and PEV-charging stations in the Tahoe-Truckee region. TRPA found that the prevalence of electric vehicles in the area is growing, and projected that they will soon surpass hybrid electric vehicles.

A chart included in the report shows that, in the first six years of development, there were more electric vehicles in the Tahoe-Truckee region than hybrid electric vehicles during the same time frame. If this trend continues, the number of plug-in electric vehicles in the area will climb to 1,000 in the next 10 years.

“We’re definitely seeing a large uptake of electric vehicle ownership in the region,” Middlebrook said.

At the heart of the Tahoe-Truckee PEV Readiness Plan is making PEVs practical alternative modes of transportation by supplying access to charging infrastructure.

Currently, there are 77 charging plugs in 30 stations in the Tahoe-Truckee planning region, one-third of which are in South Lake Tahoe. A DC Fast Charger, which allows an electric vehicle to reach an 80-percent charge in approximately 30 minutes, was installed in the Heavenly Village Parking Garage earlier this year.

“People won’t buy electric vehicles if there’s nowhere to charge them,” Middlebrook said. “We want to make owning an electric vehicle just as convenient as owning a gas vehicle.”

Plug-in electric vehicles have many benefits, including low maintenance, high performance, access to the carpool lane and a better fuel economy. When driving a PEV, it is possible to go 100 miles on $4 of electricity, which is 4 cents per mile. PEVs are also good for the environment.

“They dramatically reduce emissions,” said Dave Johnston, air pollution control officer for El Dorado County. “That’s the primary source of air pollution. And that’s motor vehicles.”

All-wheel-drive electric vehicles currently available in the U.S. include the Porsche Cayenne and Tesla Model X. Mitsubishi, Volvo and BMW have all-wheel drive electric vehicles that are expected to make their U.S. debuts later this year.

TRPA is currently conducting a survey on vehicle ownership. To participate, visit http://bit.ly/1syTjaN.

Fore more information on the Tahoe-Truckee Regional Readiness Project, visit http://www.laketahoesustainablecommunitiesprogram.org/related-plans-projects.

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