A nonprofit group promoting energy efficiency is recommending a number of ways Nevada can do more to promote the use of electric cars in the wake of Tesla Motors’ plans to build a $5 billion battery factory in the state.
Nevada doesn’t have the policy infrastructure needed to support mass deployment of electric vehicles, the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project said in the report, “Economic and Air Quality Benefits of Electric Vehicles in Nevada.”
The group recommends Nevada consider several policy changes that have been adopted in other states such as Utah and Colorado, which provide rebates for the purchase or lease electric cars. It also suggests deregulating utility electricity sales so that charging stations can sell electricity as a fuel and update Nevada codes to allow local governments to finance fleet purchases of electric vehicles.
Most of the changes would require legislative action.
“We hope to get the conversation started with this report,” Mike Salisbury, the report’s author told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “There is a lot of potential to push the market forward in Nevada.”
The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project is an advocacy group dedicated to advancing energy efficiency in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.
The vehicles at the focus of the report are not just Teslas but run the gamut from hybrids such as the Toyota Prius and Chevy Volt to the all-electric Nissan LEAF.
Such cars currently make up less than 1 percent of Nevada’s car market, the report said.
Charging stations for the vehicles are found primarily in the Las Vegas and Reno areas, but there are some located along rural sections of Interstate 80. Las Vegas has several dozen, many along the Strip at major hotels.
Tesla Chairman and CEO Elon Musk said when Nevada was selected for the $5 billion battery plant that the project is key to the company’s ability to produce an affordable mass-market, all-electric vehicle within the next three years.
The Nevada Legislature recently approved up to $1.3 billion in tax incentives for the Tesla battery plant to be constructed in Storey County east of Sparks.
Assemblyman Andrew Martin, D-Las Vegas, a “proud owner” of a Chevy Volt, said he would want to know what issue would be addressed by supporting tax incentives to buy an electric car before he could take a position on such a policy.
“Do we have a pollution concern here worth using state resources to solve the problem?” he asked. “What problem are we trying to solve?”
Among other Western states, Colorado offers a tax credit of up to $6,000 for the purchase or lease of one as well as an infrastructure fund paid for with an annual fee on each vehicle to invest in a network of charging stations. Utah has adopted a $1,500 tax credit for the purchase or lease of an electric vehicle.