by Rachel Mipro, Kansas Reflector
June 28, 2023
TOPEKA — For Kansas, the move toward greener forms of transportation is hardly electrifying.
A scorecard from advocacy group the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranks the state 31st, with a score of 16 out of 100, in a report released Wednesday.
“Kansas can do more to accelerate the transition to EVs,” said Peter Huether, ACEEE researcher and lead author on the report. “The state could start by having a comprehensive EV plan with EV and EV charging infrastructure targets, providing incentives for EVs as well as EV charging infrastructure, and providing school districts support to electrify their buses.”
Electric vehicles have been promoted as an environmentally conscious alternative at a time where carbon emissions are reaching crisis levels. California, New York and Colorado were the top three leaders in EV progress, but only nine states scored more than half the points available, and the study concluded all states needed to step up efforts to improve electric vehicle transition.
“We are seeing incremental progress, not transformational progress,” Huether said. “States will have to move far more aggressively to do their part to enable the electric vehicle transition that the climate crisis demands.”
The rankings included more than 40 metrics to evaluate states based on their actions to improve and develop the use of electric vehicles, such as charging station availability, tax breaks and policy plans.
While Kansas ranked third overall in lowering transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions over a five-year period — reducing transportation-related emissions by 6.3% between 2014-2018—other metrics weren’t as successful.
The state scored zero points for EV planning and goals, one point for transportation system efficiency and three points for electricty grid efficiency, among markers.
Though the state secured a $4 billion electric vehicle battery plant deal with Panasonic— the largest private investment in Kansas state history— there’s been a sluggish reception to electric vehicles overall.
Kansas has only 449 level two charging stations, which is the type of station used for homes, workplaces and public charging, according to the report. The report showed a total of 3,978 registered personal EVs in the state and nine recorded heavy duty EVS, such as commercial vehicles, buses, and heavy trucks.
Kansas politicians have been slow to embrace EVs. The 2019 Legislature approved a $100 registration fee for owners of all-electric cars and trucks, a far steeper figure than the $30 registration fee for gas vehicles. The fee was meant to make up for fuel tax revenue lost by EV owners. The 2023 report showed Kansas’ average gasoline tax revenue for a passenger vehicle was $99.29, providing no incentive to switch. During the 2023 legislative session, lawmakers debated levying a new tax on EV charging stations.
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden’s administration announced $2.5 billion in funding allocated for states, local governments and tribes to build electric vehicle charging infrastructure in an attempt to further his goal of cutting national greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.
“There’s been historic levels of federal funding,” Huether said. “It’s important that states take full advantage of this funding and leverage it to meet their EV goals.”
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