Friday, January 14, 2022

Rural U.S. not ready for electric vehicles, witnesses tell House committee; Jan. 19 webinar to discuss rural EVs

"Though the Biden administration is going full speed ahead at expanding the use of electric vehicles, witnesses told the House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday that rural America in particular faces a number of barriers to overcome," Todd Neeley reports for DTN/The Progressive Farmer. "The committee held a four-hour hearing that featured witnesses from the auto industry, rural power interests and the ethanol industry, who painted a cloudy picture of just how rural areas will contribute to the Biden administration's goal of electric vehicles (EVs) making up 50% of all auto sales by 2030."

Rural residents worry about the cost and practicality of EVs. Many have to drive long distances for work, shopping or appointments, and fear EVs won't be feasible because the vehicles must recharge every so often, Manhattan Institute senior fellow Mark Mills said. Government subsidies could alleviate sticker shock, and fears about recharging are unfounded since most EVs on the market offer mileage rates comparable to regular cars, Neeley reports.

But, Mills said, a farmer with a heavy load might get far lower mileage. Another problem: recharging an EV battery takes about 10 hours, though supercharger stations can do it in 40 minutes. Upgrading available charging stations to superchargers would be an expensive proposition, especially since infrastructure costs more to upgrade in rural areas, Neeley reports.

Another problem Mills noted: Rural residents see 50% more power outages than urban areas. When the power is out, they rely on gasoline-powered generators. A good supply of gasoline is a few hundred dollars, but if homeowners had to rely on electricity, they'd have to spend over $30,000 on a home-based battery storage system, Neeley reports.

Renewable energy newsroom CleanTechnica will host a free webinar at 1 p.m. ET Wednesday, Jan. 19, to discuss EVs and electrification in rural communities. CEO Zachary Shahan will moderate a panel including representatives from Dominion Energy Virginia and ABB, a tech company that makes EV charging stations. Click here for more information or to register.

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