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Massachusetts Legislation Would Add Perks For Electric Vehicle Owners

Tesla Charging at Mt. Hood Via Flickr

A bill in the Massachusetts legislator would expand access to HOV lanes to all electric car drivers, create designated parking spaces for EVs and allow cars parked illegally to be towed. As written, it applies only to battery electric cars.

Electric car charger

Massachusetts offers a $2,500 rebate for new buyers of electric vehicles which could get even better. The Joint Committee on Transportation is working on a bill that would allow EV drivers to use the highway occupancy vehicles lanes on all state highways. In addition, it would increase access to charging stations in the state, and require information about charging power and compatibility of each station to be posted online.

Rep. Frank Smizik, who chairs the House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, tells Boston.com the measure is necessary to curtail carbon emissions in the state. He notes that the transportation sector is responsible for nearly 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions in Massachusetts. Private vehicles are responsible for the majority of those emissions.

“Electric vehicles have made enormous technological advancements over the past decade, and can now compete economically and functionally with traditional motor vehicles,” said Smizik. “Many in the legislature, including myself, recognize this and believe we can consider EVs in our emissions reductions strategy.”

“With decreased gas prices, a 10 percent increase in vehicle miles traveled over the last 20 years, and a carpool rate below the national average, we must address personal vehicle use directly as part of our transportation emissions reduction strategy,” said Rep. Smizik.

The bill, known as “An Act Promoting Electric Vehicle Adoption,” would also direct the Department of Energy Resources to develop a common standard as part of the state building code for electric vehicle charging stations. And here’s a small but important detail that all electric car drivers will cheer about. The legislation would empower cities and towns to  create designated EV only parking spaces. A violator could be fined between $15 and $50 and/or have the offending vehicle towed.

Rep. Smizik points out that the current version of the bill would only extend these benefits to battery electric vehicles like Teslas, not to other types of alternative fuel vehicles like plug-in hybrids and fuel cell vehicles. But he said he and other advocates are working to determine which types of vehicles “are most appropriate for this benefit.”

In 2014, Massachusetts, along with 7 other states, agreed to get 3.3 million zero emission vehicles on the road by 2025. The Bay State’s share of that commitment is 300,000 vehicles. It has a long way to go to meet that goal. Smizik believes the proposed legislation will help Massachusetts reach its goal by expanding charging infrastructure for EVs and offering “no-cost incentives” like HOV lane access and designated parking spaces. “Massachusetts’ 2025 ZEV goal is an ambitious target which can be met with a concerted effort of the state and industry,” he says.

Photo credit: Oregon Dept. Of Transportation via Flickr/Creative Commons
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