Electric Driving in an Oil State


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States like Texas are famous for their connection to the oil industry, but that doesn't mean that driving an electric vehicle (EV) is out of the question. As the market for electric vehicles grows larger, states that would traditionally resist giving up petroleum are being forced to adapt.

In fact, Texas has become one of the better states for electric cars ownership, with favorable tax incentives, increased charging station availability and local governments that are investing in the electric infrastructure needed for a greener future. Here’s how one of the biggest oil states in the U.S. is rethinking driving — and what other states are doing to follow suit.

Tax Incentives

Typically, electric cars are more expensive than your standard internal combustion vehicle, especially when you compare the features and niceties inside. The federal government offers a hefty $7,500 tax credit to help lower the price tag, but Texas goes even further. In June of 2018, Texas reinstated their $2,500 state tax credit for purchasing an electric vehicle after a three-year hiatus from offering this credit. This is great news for Texans who want to drive green, as tax incentives are critical for making EVs and hybrids accessible to the average consumer.  

In addition to the tax rebate, the AirCheckTexas Drive a Clean Machine Vehicle Replacement Program from the Texas Department of Environmental Quality will give a further rebate of up to $3,500 for trading in for a more efficient vehicle, especially EVs and hybrids. However, the requirements for this program are a bit more stringent. You must be in a low-income bracket and your current vehicle must meet certain requirements for inefficiency. It's also only available to residents in certain parts of the state. 

Charging Station Availability

Texas is a big place, but there are already 960 charging stations across the state, allowing EV drivers to make it almost anywhere without running out of juice. Most of these charging stations are located in urban areas, but some are placed along highways that run through the state. 

Additionally, the federal government has designated several interstate highways to be "Interstate Charging Corridors," including Interstates 10, 20, 30, 35 and 45. This is backed up by $4.5 billion in guaranteed loans from the government to companies building EV charging stations – part of an effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. by 80 percent by 2050. 

12/11/2018 10:01:05 AM

I was surprised the article didn't address the big elephant in the room when it comes to running an EV in a fossil-fuel-heavy area, which is that it's not necessarily that environmentally friendly to run an EV if your electricity is all coming from fossil fuels anyway. EVs have a higher carbon cost baked into their production than a standard vehicle, so moving from cars that are directly fossil fueled to cars that are fueled by electricity generated by an equivalent fossil fuel is a net loss. There *is* something to be said for everyone switching to EVs with the presumption that we will eventually all be on more environmentally-friendly electrical grids, but the value of that is somewhat intangible and difficult to calculate with present-day knowledge. Anyway I did a little looking-up on Texas' electrical grid and I was pleasantly surprised. Apparently Texas has a very isolated electric grid (they largely produce what they use and vice versa) and their grid is currently 18% wind and solar, on the high end of par with the US average and continuing to grow at a good pace. I'm Canadian so my natural bias is to assume TX and AB are culturally similar in many ways (AB being known as the "Texas of Canada"), and currently they're only at 12% renewables, by which they include hydro. For comparison, my own province is 95% renewables, including hydro. The other provinces have been saying for years that AB needs to put more of a focus on renewable infrastructure but AB has such a strong "oil culture" that many Albertans seem to be reflexively against it. It is really heartening to see that Texas is making such great strides in improving its infrastructure and I think it shows that not all hope is lost in other oil-producing areas.

11/21/2018 4:32:55 AM

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11/19/2018 9:48:30 AM

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