Massachusetts already leads most other states when it comes to offering incentives to electric car drivers. For instance, it has an rebate program in place the pays up to $2,500 to Massachusetts residents who purchase a qualifying electric car. Now, it may go further if a bill pending in the state legislature gets approved.
According to Boston.com, Massachusetts is one of 7 states who have agreed to get 3.3 million zero emission vehicles on the road by 2025. The Bay State’s share of that commitment is 300,000 vehicles, but it has a long way to go to meet that goal. In order to increase interest in electric cars, the Joint Committee on Transportation is working on a bill that would allow electric car drivers to use the highway occupancy vehicles lanes on all state highways. In addition, it would increase access to charging stations in the state and require information about charging power and compatibility of each station to be posted online.
Here’s something EV advocates can cheer about. The legislation would empower local cities and towns to impose fines of up to $50 on idiots who park their internal combustion powered cars in spaces reserved for an electric car. It also allows those cars to be towed at the owner’s expense. That’s something EV drivers will really appreciate.
Rep. Frank Smizik, who chairs the House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, tells Boston.com the measure is necessary to curtail carbon emissions in the state. He notes that the transportation sector is responsible for nearly 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions in Massachusetts. Private vehicles are responsible for the majority of those emissions.
“Electric vehicles have made enormous technological advancements over the past decade, and can now compete economically and functionally with traditional motor vehicles,” says Smizik. “Many in the legislature, including myself, recognize this and believe we can consider EVs in our emissions reductions strategy. With decreased gas prices, a 10 percent increase in vehicle miles traveled over the last 20 years, and a carpool rate below the national average, we must address personal vehicle use directly as part of our transportation emissions reduction strategy.”
Smizik believes the proposed legislation will help Massachusetts reach its goal by expanding charging infrastructure for EVs and offering “no-cost incentives” like HOV lane access and designated parking spaces. “Massachusetts’ 2025 ZEV goal is an ambitious target which can be met with a concerted effort of the state and industry,” he says.
The bill, known as “An Act Promoting Electric Vehicle Adoption,” would also direct the Department of Energy Resources to develop a common standard as part of the state building code for electric vehicle charging stations. The current version of the bill would only extend the new incentives to battery electric vehicles like Teslas, not to other types of alternative fuel vehicles like plug-in hybrids and fuel cell vehicles. But Smizik says he and other advocates are working to determine which types of vehicles “are most appropriate for this benefit.”
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