According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, there are only about 100 battery electric vehicles registered in Connecticut, and maybe 40 charging stations. It's a start.
The numbers are also likely to confuse many, because for the most part they're counting only sales of the Nissan Leaf, with a tiny number of Smart Electric Drives, Mitsubishi I-MiEVs and other cars. The Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius Plug-In, Fisker Karma are also on the market — in fact, the Volt is creaming the Leaf in monthly sales — but they're plug-in hybrids and aren't in the state count. Add in plug-in hybrids, and maybe there are 300 to 500 electric cars on our roads.
Last week I was on Connecticut Public Radio (WNPR) talking about all this, and another guest was Dan Esty, the Volt owner who is also commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Esty said that his boss, Governor Dannel Malloy, will be announcing on Oct. 5 a package of initiatives to encourage EV ownership.
Esty said that the initiatives will include measures to help businesses install charging stations. Although Esty said that "97 percent" of all EV charging will be at home or the office, the goal is to create a modest network of a few hundred public units statewide so that nobody is more than 10 to 15 minutes from a place to plug in.
The state's incentives could help a lot. It would be great if Connecticut offered a cash rebate to battery electric buyers. That's in addition to the $7,500 federal income tax credit that everybody gets. California, for instance, will reimburse $2,500 to every Leaf buyer, and that's one reason the state has at least half of all the EVs sold. Hawaii was perhaps overly generous — the pot that provided $4,500 rebates soon ran out of money.
The commissioner also pointed out Connecticut has a fairly clean grid, with 50 percent from nuclear and much of the rest generated with natural gas (the least-offensive fossil fuel). An electric car charged from that grid will be cleaner than any gasoline car on the road — trust me on that.
Also on the radio show was Dan Shanahan, president and CEO of Control Module, an Enfield-based electric car charging company that has installed 25 units around the state, including at Southern Connecticut State University, the University of Connecticut in Storrs, and the state capitol.
I'm starting to see electric cars on state roads, especially Volts, but also a smattering of Nissan Leafs, Mitsubishi I-MiEVs and even a Fisker Karma. Maybe some were just passing through, but it seems safe to say that EVs have a beachhead here.