Aug 3, 2022 - News

Massachusetts poised to turbocharge EV network

Areas that are <span style="color: white; background-color:#f4937e; padding: 0px 4px; display: inline-block; margin: 5px 0px 0px; white-space: nowrap; font-weight: 900;">3 miles or farther </span> from an electric vehicle charger
Data: SparkCharge; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Massachusetts could soon get more electric vehicle drivers — and more charging stations to fill in the gaps — if Gov. Charlie Baker approves a climate bill lawmakers passed over the weekend.

What's happening: The bill includes up to $5,000 in rebates for EV purchases (and another $1,500 rebate for low-income drivers), and would require MassDOT to install charging stations in transportation hubs across the state.

  • It would also create a council to spearhead plans to add more charging stations.
  • The bill comes as the Biden administration prepares to send Massachusetts $63 million over five years to build out its EV charging network.

Why it matters: Massachusetts has an ambitious goal to add 300,000 zero-emission vehicles by 2025 to help reduce carbon emissions.

  • The state had one-tenth of that number of EVs registered as of June, according to the federal Alternative Fuels Data Center.
  • Rebates could provide more incentives for residents to buy EVs, and adding public charging stations could help the state meet demand as more drivers go electric.

What they're saying: "If Gov. Baker signs this bill into law, the cars we drive will be cleaner and the air we breathe will be healthier," said Ben Hellerstein, state director of Environment Massachusetts, in a statement to Axios.

By the numbers: Massachusetts is home to at least 1,600 EV charging stations, according to one estimate.

  • Of those, nearly half (771) are in Middlesex and Suffolk counties, while parts of Central and Western Massachusetts have far fewer stations.

Details: Under the bill, MassDOT would have to at least set plans by next July to add charging stations at MassPike service plazas and transit station parking lots.

  • The state would have to approve rebates for off-peak EV charging (National Grid says its off-peak hours are 9pm to 1pm the next day).
  • By 2035, all new cars for sale would need to be zero-emission vehicles.

What's next: Baker has until next week to act on the bill.

  • But getting lawmakers to vote on any changes Baker makes, or override a veto, will prove tough now that the formal legislative session has ended.
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