Washington, D.C. – Limited availability of vehicles and underdeveloped charging infrastructure are among the barriers preventing greater electric vehicle (EV) usage in metropolitan Washington according to a new report by the Council of Governments (COG). Electric Vehicles in Metropolitan Washington, presented at today’s National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board meeting, provides a comprehensive look at current regional EV readiness and offers recommendations to address barriers to EV use.
The report also stresses the benefits of EVs, including reducing greenhouse gases, improving air quality, and dramatic fuel costs savings. It notes EVs have fuel economy ratings equivalent from 75 to over 100 miles per gallon of gasoline and cost approximately $0.04 per mile to operate when charged in metropolitan Washington.
Although metropolitan Washington still has a relatively small electric vehicle market, consumer interest in EVs is growing and more models are becoming available. However, the region’s charging infrastructure and EV policy frameworks are not yet sufficient to accommodate more widespread adoption of these vehicles. In terms of infrastructure, metropolitan Washington lags behind other regions, such as San Francisco and San Diego, in the number of EV charging stations, though this figure is increasing due to stimulus funding and private investment.
COG’s inventory of EV charging stations in the region identified 332 chargers in 133 publicly available charging station locations. The District of Columbia has the most charging stations among COG jurisdictions (36), followed by Fairfax County (18), Arlington County (15), and Charles County (11). D.C. and Arlington County also have the highest number of chargers (85 and 62, respectively). The numbers reflected in the inventory are as of April 2012.
Most vehicle trips in the region are relatively short, with an average trip length of less than eight miles. This is well within the range of one charge for all EVs on the market today, eliminating one of the major obstacles to greater EV usage, “range anxiety.”
Furthermore, the absence of a clear policy framework for EV infrastructure planning – which considers permitting, citing, zoning, utility policy, and other issues – exacerbates existing market barriers. The report notes that a streamlined regional strategy would help overcome these obstacles and encourage wider EV adoption.
The top five recommendations from Electric Vehicles in Metropolitan Washington to encourage greater EV use in metropolitan Washington are:
1. Regional EV Partnership: A Washington Regional Electric Vehicle Partnership should be formed to develop a business case for EVs, and to assess the potential for community return on investment.
2. Incentives: Stakeholders should consider offering incentives such as preferred parking, HOV occupancy exceptions, and tax credits to promote EV adoption.
3. Utility Planning and Policy: Electric permitting procedures should identify EV charging station installations and notify electric utilities of their locations.
4. Outreach and Education is needed to promote EV adoption and inform the public of its benefits.
5. Local Government Policy: Comprehensive plans and zoning regulations should guide EV infrastructure development and ensure that the built environment can accommodate future EV charging station installations.
To view/download the report, which was produced by COG’s Climate, Energy, and Environmental Policy Committee, click here. The report will be presented to the COG Board of Directors in November for adoption.