How Nevada is doing with targets to encourage the use of electric vehicles

Wade Vandervort

Paul Bordenkircher uses a CCS1 DC station to charge his Chevy Spark electric vehicle on Tuesday, October 12, 2021.

Paul Bordenkircher drives his red Chevrolet Spark, taking with him the gear he uses as a sound engineer for events around Las Vegas. He walks past gas stations and never worries about refueling.

Indeed, when he gets home, he plugs in his car to recharge during the night.

As the popularity of electric vehicles in Nevada continues to grow, the valley’s infrastructure to support drivers also continues to grow.

Bordenkircher is one of some 11,000 people in Nevada who have made the switch to electric vehicles – a trend that is expected to grow as the state and the private sector continue to add infrastructure to support them.

At least 6,000 level one or level two charging stations are located in southern Nevada, and many of them are free, said Bordenkircher, treasurer of the Las Vegas Electric Vehicle Association.

“It’s one of those things where people see them, drive them, (and they) realize how accessible they are, how amazingly fast and smooth they are,” he said. “We see a lot of people driving one and becoming (electrical) conductors themselves. “

Stations are found in all pockets of the valley, including casino parking lots and shopping center parking lots. And more seem to be on the horizon, with charging stations built in places like the Walmart Mall near US 95 and Sunset Road in Henderson and at Smith’s gas station on Flamingo Roads. and Sandhill.

At home, Bordenkircher has a level one charger, which costs a few hundred dollars and takes 15 hours to fully charge his car. A level two charger is five times faster.

Bordenkircher said he had never encountered a line at charging stations in the area, although he said it was common to see stations down. Some of the biggest offenders are the casinos, he said, which have free charging stations, but many are down for weeks at a time.

Bordenkircher rarely finds himself in a “difficult spot” where he has to be careful with his driving to get home. With a full charge, his car can travel 60 to 80 miles, he said. He can also plan a trip to pass one of 40 level three or direct current (DC) charging stations in Las Vegas. These take 20 minutes to fully charge the vehicle.

There are 418 Level 2 and 3 public charging stations in Las Vegas, and 70% of them are free, according to ChargeHub.

Charging stations in rural Nevada

The number of electric vehicles in Nevada has steadily increased, from 9,296 in fiscal 2020 to 11,040 electric vehicle registrations in June 2021, according to the Department’s Alternative Fuels Data Center. ‘Energy.

Although growing, the number of EVs in Nevada is paltry compared to other states. California has the highest number of electric vehicles with 425,000, accounting for 42% of electric vehicles nationwide, followed by Florida and Texas.

As the market grew, officials found the private sector installing charging stations in urban areas, but there were not many in rural areas of the state, said Jennifer Taylor, deputy director. of the Governor’s Energy Office. Authorities wanted to make sure electric vehicle drivers could cross Nevada, she said.

The Nevada Electric Highway program began as a partnership between the Governor’s Office of Energy, NV Energy and Valley Electric Association with the idea of ​​installing charging stations every 50 miles along Interstate 95, before moving on to expand to other freeways including Interstate 80, Interstate 15, United States. 93 and US 50 with the goal of completion in 2020.

There are 23 charging stations in the state under the partnership – at gas stations, rest areas, grocery stores and casinos – and five are expected to be completed within the next two months, Taylor said. Each station must have at least two charging bays, one of which is fast charging.

NV Energy supplied 11 charging stations to the project, said Marie Steele, director of electrification programs at NV Energy. Nine of them have been completed and one is under construction.

NV Energy is in the process of selecting the site for the other, which includes recruiting a host site such as restaurants and gas stations, or a property in a remote area in need of electricity, Steele said. .

NV Energy’s program includes incentives for residential and commercial customers to install charging stations, Steele said. For a level two charger, NV Energy is offering an incentive of $ 30,000 per project, according to its website.

But NV Energy doesn’t own any of the stations, Steele said, and the company wants to offer to own some in the future. “We also know that some of the charging stations are down and we look forward to providing this reliable network,” Steele said.

Nevada Standards

There is a massive movement towards electric vehicles in the United States and around the world, said Kristen Averyt, a research professor at UNLV who focuses on climate resilience and urban sustainability.

It’s important to deploy infrastructure to support the trend, which means adding charging stations and making sure they’re in the right place so people can get from point A to point B, said Averyt.

“It’s really important because at this point the transportation sector accounts for the largest share of state emissions compared to any other sector,” Averyt said.

Transportation accounts for about 36% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, Averyt said, and reducing them will help the state meet its goal of reaching zero emissions by 2050.

Newly adopted legislation will further this goal and continue to develop renewable energies and promote the cause of electric vehicles. Nevada Senate Bill 448, which passed in May, will require electric utilities to submit a plan to increase transportation electrification in Nevada and to file plans for transmission infrastructure projects at high voltage, according to the bill.

But electric vehicles also have a negative side. The extraction of lithium is necessary to manufacture batteries for electric cars. A planned lithium mine north of Las Vegas is the perfect example of environmental compromise, where the government argues that a rare wildflower growing in the area should be protected.

“Solving climate change is complex,” Averyt said. “We are at the point where there are going to be compromises.” It is important that the right people are at the table to have these discussions to determine the way forward, she said.

NV Energy has since proposed its plan to increase transportation electrification, which includes the deployment of more electric charging stations across the state, Steele said, and expects a decision on its plan by November 30.

California, of course, is the flag bearer, Bordenkircher said.

California has set standards that make it easier for residents to switch to electric cars, for example by requiring the sale of more zero-emission vehicles and the extension of electric highways.

“It would be great to see Nevada adopt more of these types of standards,” Bordenkircher said.

Bordenkircher would also like to see more manufacturers selling their electric vehicles in Nevada. There are plenty of vehicles available across the country, but not so many in some states due to a lack of incentives, Bordenkircher said. That said, electric vehicles are more accessible than you might think. There is a large market for used electric cars, he said. He bought his used car for $ 10,000.

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