Report: R.I. electric vehicle policies rank 19th out of top 33 in nation

RHODE ISLAND was ranked No. 19 among the top 33 states in the nation for its electric vehicle policies, according to the 2023 State Transportation Electrification Scorecard from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. / AP FILE PHOTO/NAM Y. HUH

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island was ranked No. 19 among the top 33 states in the nation for its electric vehicle policies, according to the 2023 State Transportation Electrification Scorecard from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

The council said Rhode Island dropped significantly in its latest report. The nonprofit, which is based in the District of Columbia, ranked the Ocean State’s policies No. 15 in 2022.

The ACEEE scorecard, which is primarily based on a review of state policies effective by Feb. 15, 2023, ranked states across five policy areas: electric vehicle and EV charging infrastructure planning and goal setting, incentives for EV development, transportation system efficiency, electricity grid optimization, and transportation electrification outcomes.

The council’s 2023 report found Rhode Island lags behind its neighbors in integrating EVs on the grid and lacks time-varying charging rates for Level 2 chargers and fast charger-specific charging rates. Though, it did laud Gov. Daniel J. McKee’s planned adoption of California’s Advanced Clean Cars II and Advanced Clean Truck rules in May, which would end the sale of the new gas-powered vehicles by 2035.

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“The state has made progress in offering incentives for EVs and EV charging infrastructure and has seen good transportation electrification outcomes,” according to Peter Huether, senior research associate at ACEEE and lead author of the report. “Fortunately, Governor Daniel McKee has signaled his intent to adopt two policies to help transition to EVs in the state – California’s Advanced Clean Cars II and Advanced Clean Truck rules – which happened after our data cutoff but would have only improved Rhode Island’s score by one point. Full adoption would improve the state’s score even more and would provide air quality and climate benefits.”

Rhode Island, along with California, Vermont, Colorado, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia, scored full points for Level 2 chargers per capita, according to the report.

The report also hailed Rhode Island’s plan to use 75% of the settlement money from the federal government’s Volkswagen environmental lawsuit to invest in 20 zero-emission transit buses and electric charging stations. The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority’s plan to purchase up to 20 electric buses, with 14 operating in low-income communities, was also noted in the report.

However, the report said Rhode Island needs better incentives for its residents to purchase electric vehicles. The state’s rebate program, DRIVEEV, currently offers rebates of up to $2,500 per purchase and an additional $2,000 for applicants who qualify under low-income guidelines.

California led the nation overall, according to the scorecard, with New York second, followed by Colorado, Massachusetts and Vermont. Fellow New England states Maine and Connecticut were ranked No. 11 and No. 12, respectively. New Hampshire was among the states not included in the report.

The scorecard only presents scores for the top 33 states because the remaining states achieved very few points and there is little differentiation in policy progress among those states, according to the report.

Iowa was ranked No. 33. The states that are not included in the top 33 have the most work to do to plan for and accelerate transportation electrification, the ACEEE said in its report.

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