HARRISBURG, PA — The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced its latest actions to help expand electric vehicle use statewide: more than $936,000 in grant funding for projects to install 16 more fast chargers in high-traffic areas, the start of a draft rulemaking to make electric vehicles more readily available to consumers, and the release of a booklet on the benefits and basics of these zero-emission vehicles.
“Our transportation decisions affect Pennsylvania today and tomorrow. We can turn in the direction of healthier air quality and slow down climate change by switching to electric vehicles, whether we’re government officials, business owners, school administrators, community leaders, or individual consumers,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “DEP is committed to supporting this choice by increasing public knowledge of electric vehicles, making it easier for consumers to find electric models, and helping to expand charging infrastructure.”
Transportation generates 47 percent of nitrogen oxide and 21 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in Pennsylvania. Carbon dioxide emissions are the leading cause of climate change, and nitrogen oxides contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, which affects the health of children, older people, people with lung diseases such as asthma and emphysema, and people who work or are active outdoors.
Expanding Charging Infrastructure
The DEP Driving PA Forward program announced $936,619 in grant funding to four projects that will install 16 fast chargers in high-traffic locations that serve both local and longer distance drivers. The funding comes from the commonwealth’s share of the national settlement with Volkswagen Group of America for cheating on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emissions tests.
The projects are expected to remove 771 tons of carbon dioxide, .50 ton of nitrogen oxides, .30 ton of volatile organic compounds, 186 pounds of coarse particulate matter, and 51 pounds of fine particulate matter annually from the air.
DEP awarded $750,000 to EVgo Services for three projects:
- $250,000 to install six fast-charging plugs at Cedar Realty TrustQuartermaster Plaza, 2300 West Oregon Avenue, Philadelphia. The site is located in an Environmental Justice community and within a half-mile of Interstate 76 and three miles of Interstate 95.
- $250,000 to install four fast-charging plugs at Albertsons Acme Market, 124 Morton Avenue, Ridley Township, Delaware County. The location is within two miles of Interstate 95 and Interstate 476.
- $250,000 to install four fast-charging plugs at a Sheetz gas station/convenience store at 9002 University Boulevard, Moon Township, Allegheny County. The site is located in an Environmental Justice community and less than a mile from the Pittsburgh Airport, less than a half-mile from Interstate 376 Business, and less than four miles from Interstate 376.
DEP awarded EVBuild, Inc. $186,619 for a project to install two fast-charging plugs in a mall parking lot at 100 N.W. End Boulevard, Quakertown Borough, Bucks County. The project is located along high-traffic Route 309 and within four miles of Interstate 476.
Located in community hubs, the projects will serve local residents’ day-to-day charging needs, helping to make electric vehicle ownership an option for residents who live in apartments as well as homeowners.
The projects will also be additional stops in a network of highway segments that DEP and PennDOT are helping to develop into electric vehicle corridors for longer distance drivers. These corridors will eventually have chargers located every 50 miles along the highway and no more than 5 miles from the road, with accompanying roadside signage. Interstates 76, 95, 376, and 476 are part of this growing network, which currently totals 731 miles.
Since its launch two years ago, Driving PA Forward has funded 40 fast chargers and more than 1,300 level 2 chargers that have been installed or are in development by companies, local governments, and organizations around the state.
Making It Easier for Pennsylvanians to Learn about and Find Electric Vehicles
The Pennsylvania Electric Vehicle Roadmap, released in 2019 by the DEP-led Pennsylvania Drive Electric Coalition, documented that while Pennsylvanians are increasingly interested in the option of replacing their gasoline- or diesel-powered vehicle with a zero-emission vehicle, many people have only slight knowledge of electric vehicles, and opportunities to test drive and purchase them in state are limited.
The DEP Energy Programs Office recently released Electric Vehicle Roadmap: 2021 Update to help meet the need for more widely available information. This booklet presents an overview of the benefits and basics of electric vehicles; a statewide look at current electric vehicle use; tips for individual consumers; and actions that legislators, government offices, and business owners can take to make the switch to electric vehicles. It’s free for public use and distribution.
Making electric vehicles more commonly available at car dealerships is also key. Under Governor Tom Wolf’s direction, the DEP Bureau of Air Quality has begun drafting a proposed rulemaking that would amend the Pennsylvania Clean Vehicles Program to establish a requirement for automakers to include light-duty electric vehicles as a percentage of their model offerings.
The proposed amendment would make Pennsylvania the ninth state in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions to adopt a new light-duty zero-emissions vehicle percentage requirement for automakers. The rule revision would help ensure that automakers offer for sale in Pennsylvania new zero-emissions electric vehicle models that otherwise would be offered in surrounding states that have a requirement.
The Bureau of Air Quality has begun rule and program development and anticipates presenting the proposed rule for consideration to the Environmental Quality Board in the fall.
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