To EV or Not to EV: Is There a Blowback in EVs in CT?

Motorists are no longer as enthusiastic about the future of an electric car as they used to be. Where are CT residents on the EV enthusiasm spectrum?

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CONNECTICUT – Has the EV backlash hit Connecticut?

American drivers are no longer as enthusiastic about a future without combustion engines as they used to be, the Wall Street Journal notes. The recall of the Ford F-150 Lightning truck has pushed production of the automotive icon to neutral, and rental car Leviathan Hertz announced in January that it had decided to sell and convert a third of its electric fleet in the United States reinvest in gasoline-powered cars.

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In December, Governor Ned Lamont rescinded regulations requiring all new vehicles sold in Connecticut to be zero-emission by 2035 when it became clear the initiative did not have sufficient support within the Regulation Review Committee, according to a Hartford Business Journal report.

EV enthusiasts in the capital are still optimistic, but major concerns remain about the affordability of electric vehicles, the capacity of the state’s power grid and the availability of chargers.

In January, Republican lawmakers proposed their own EV migration plan, based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s less restrictive guidelines.

This week, state lawmakers held a public hearing on House Bill 5485, which would create the 40-member Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Coordinating Council. That group would be charged with assessing both the state’s electric grid, charging infrastructure and the auto industry. The proposed legislation would also revise existing state-sponsored EV rebates to allocate more money to low- and moderate-income households and incentivize the installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, especially in rural areas.

The public hearing Wednesday was just the opening fireworks, as Hartford watchers expect the bill to be hotly and roundly debated throughout the remainder of the short 2023-2024 legislative session.

In its prepared testimony submitted to the Transportation Committee ahead of Wednesday’s public hearing, The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut told lawmakers that “the largest source of carbon emissions comes from the transportation sector, but momentum in decarbonizing this sector has declined significantly.” The environmental advocacy group has urged lawmakers to make a “clean transportation sector” a priority.

Senate Republican Leader Stephen Harding portrayed the proposed legislation as a Trojan horse.

“This is an EV mandate,” he said at a news conference before the public hearing. “The only difference is they want to wait until November, after the election, to tell you they’re going to do this.”

In a joint statement, Harding and House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora said the legislative council created by the bill would merely be “a public relations tool designed to fit our state into California’s radical emissions standards . It is not a catalyst to develop solutions for citizens.” ‘Common sense is concerned about costs, charging infrastructure and freedom of choice.’

State Sen. Roland Lemar, the Democratic chairman of the Transportation Committee, told WFSB that Republican leaders were “fear-mongering and trying to manipulate public opinion on this issue.”

What is the opinion of the Patch audience? Is Connecticut moving too fast to embrace electric vehicles, or are we dragging our feet? Do the benefits of cleaner air outweigh the costs? Enough for a state mandate?

Let us know your thoughts in the poll below, and Patch will publish the results in about a week.

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