Jackson Hole News and Guide 8/21/13 Guest Shot
On Aug. 5 the Jackson Town Council voted to approve the installation of five electric vehicle charging stations in public parking lots around the core of Jackson. The Yellowstone-Teton Clean Energy Coalition and the Jackson Hole Energy Sustainability Project commend the mayor and council for their leadership and commitment to energy conservation and environmental stewardship. Nationally there are 8,010 public and private charging stations, yet in Wyoming there is only one available to the public. The five charging stations will literally put Jackson on the map in Wyoming and throughout the region as being a leader in promoting cleaner, more diverse transportation options.
There is a common misconception that electric vehicles simply replace oil with coal in terms of fuel use. However, it’s not that straightforward. How an electric vehicle is supplied ”fuel” depends on where and how your community receives its power. Lower Valley Energy, our local utility provider, purchases all of Jackson’s electricity through Bonneville Power Administration, which is 84 percent hydropower, while the national average grid is 49 percent coal. Due to Jackson’s clean grid there is a 60 percent reduction in fuel-source emissions per mile when comparing an electric vehicle with a conventional petroleum-powered vehicle. In addition, all of the town of Jackson’s operations run on 100 percent certified green power from Lower Valley’s Strawberry Creek hydro facility. As if that wasn’t enough green, four of the five approved EV stations are located in parking lots where the power will be offset by large solar installations. The kilowatt capabilities of the solar arrays at these public lots will be enough for 15 average vehicle charging events per day.
Fuel source emissions are only half of the equation. If you live or drive your electric vehicle somewhere outside of Jackson, rest assured, the Union of Concerned Scientists recently completed a study that concluded, ”There are no areas of the country where electric vehicles have higher global warming emissions than the average new gasoline vehicle.” This conclusion is a result of electric vehicles’ energy efficiencies. An electric motor converts 75 to 80 percent of the chemical energy from the batteries to power the wheels. An internal combustion engine converts only 20 percent of the energy stored in gasoline.
Electric vehicles also help reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The United States imports nearly half of the oil we consume each year, two-thirds of which is consumed by transportation. Electric vehicles derive all their energy from electricity, which is a domestic source of fuel. While there is no perfect fuel, adding electric vehicle charging in Jackson sends us along the right path of more diverse and cleaner fueling options.
Approximately 120,000 electric vehicles are on U.S. roads today, and the adoption of electric vehicles continues to outpace early sales of hybrid vehicles. According to Forbes magazine, “Recent news from the U.S. on that front (electric vehicles) is somewhat encouraging: Sales of EV s for the first half of 2013 reached 41,447, according to AUTOS.aol.com, over twice the rate of sales in 2012. Thirteen models of plug-ins now populate our roads, and more are coming.”
In light of the trend, the Yellowstone-Teton Clean Energy Coalition is convening a regional electric vehicle infrastructure working group. There is a need to adapt to the coming technology, and Jackson is leading the way in this region.
The Jackson charging stations should be installed and functional by this winter. We look forward to coordinating our marketing efforts with local rental car companies and the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce to get the word out that people can charge their cars in Jackson.
The Jackson Hole Energy Sustainability Project was proud to loan Jackson the funds for the five charging stations out of the 2010 specific purpose excise tax monies for energy efficiency. Being innovative as well as conservatively minded are values we care about in Jackson. The leadership demonstrated by the Town Council shows that we are moving forward as a community while taking care of this special place.
Both our organizations are proud to work closely with the town of Jackson and the community to provide information and cleaner transportation. We are always available to discuss this issue.
Shelley Simonton, is executive director of the Jackson Hole Energy Sustainability Project. Alicia Cox is program coordinator for the Yellowstone-Teton Clean Energy Coalition.