Idaho Energy Freedom Advisory Council member Linda Engle recently presented about sustainability and electric vehicles.
Engle is passionate about slowing climate change by reducing the burning of fossil fuels. One way she advocates for the climate is by spreading awareness of the benefits of electric cars. Engle and her spouse have owned a Tesla since 2019, and she’s savvy about the costs, tax credits, as well as the state of electric vehicle (EV) buses, scooters, and bikes.
Each American produces about 34,000 pounds of CO2 each year because of the fossil fuels we use in our daily lives, Engle said. From the orange you buy at Albertsons that was trucked to Twin Falls from California or the natural gas you use to cook or heat your home, humans produce a lot of pollution.
Engle noted that Idaho imports all of its gas and diesel fuel, which is partly why prices are so high and more impacted by price fluctuations, including international security concerns, than neighboring states. Engle said that Idahoans spend $3 billion on gasoline each year, yet only 10% of that money stays in the state. On the other hand, Engle said because Idaho is great at generating electricity, including our great potential to increase how much is produced through renewables like wind and solar, going electric would mean more Idaho dollars stay in the state.
Engle shared research by the American Lung Association shows adopting zero emission vehicles renewable energy could save Idaho $1.8 billion in public health costs due to a reduction in respiratory illnesses and cardiac events. She said it would also reduce thousands of employee sick days, boosting Idaho’s workforce productivity. EV motors are 3.8 times more efficient than gas-powered cars, meaning that even if the electricity comes from natural gas or coal, less pollution is made than burning gasoline in a car.
Other advantages to EVs that Engle discussed include:
- No oil changes.
- Choices galore! There are now 32 EV manufacturers, so you can choose between many options to determine what best fits your lifestyle.
- No spark plugs, transmission or transmission fluids to change or maintain. EV maintenance costs really only include tires.
- Higher resale value.
- Tax credits now. The amount depends on the buyer’s income, whether the car is fully EV or a plug-in hybrid, the size of the battery, the final location of the car’s assembly, as well as its size and purchase date, also play a role. Engle said $7,500 in tax credits is the average.
- Tax credits for a charger in your home, including upgrading your circuit breaker box, if needed.
- Most EVs when fully charged can now drive 150-300 miles before needing to be plugged in. Teslas actually tell you where the nearest charging station is and help you plan your trip to avoid being stuck.
- No need to spend money on gasoline anymore.
Comparing a Chevy Bolt to a gas-efficient Nissan Rogue, Engle said that the average owner saved over $3,500 over five years. Savings were calculated using the national averages of 25.4 mpg and the average cost of gas in Idaho, meaning a gas car costs $.14 cents per mile and F150 Ford V8 gas engine costs $.20 cents/mile. In Idaho, driving an electric vehicle costs just $.03 cents/mile.
Engle summarized her talk in just a few points, including that driving electric is not only better in terms of pollution, but it also helps our economy by keeping Idaho dollars in Idaho. She noted that electric vehicles are convenient, economical and fun to drive.
To learn more about available tax credits for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, visit www.fueleconomy.gov.
About Linda Engle
Linda Engle holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering and a graduate degree in mathematics education from the University of Colorado. She served on the faculty of Idaho State University’s Mathematics Department and founded the Sustainability Club, now in its fifth year. Engle has discussed climate solutions with Idaho’s federal delegation in Washington D.C. She served as the marketing coordinator for Solarize Pocatello, a successful program that helped install more than 80 residential solar systems across Southern Idaho. In 2020, she founded Sustainable Idaho, an award-winning student-run weekly radio program. She was also instrumental in the installation of Idaho State University’s first electric charging station through grants from Idaho Power and other organizations.