Representatives of Connecticut’s fuel distributors and truckers say the state’s move to adopt California regulations to phase out gasoline powered cars and trucks in favor of electric vehicles is “too much, too soon,” and will ultimately drive-up costs.
“These regulations will increase the cost of gasoline, diesel, electricity and virtually every service and product throughout the state,” said Chris Herb, president of the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association (CEMA) during a press conference. “If passed these regulations, as they are phased in, will reduce the amount of gasoline sold. This will drive small gasoline stations out of business as their sales shrink. Less competition will result in higher prices at the pump.”
John Blair, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut (MTAC), said that requiring tractor-trailer trucks to be battery powered will cost more, slow delivery services of goods due to the amount of time it takes to charge a truck, and that trucks will be able to carry fewer goods because the increased weight of the batteries contributes to the truck’s maximum allowable weight on the roads.
“For us, any cost that we incur is going to be passed along to the consumer,” Blair said. Blair said the average cost of a tractor-trailer is $150,000 and can drive roughly 1,400 miles on a full tank of diesel, while EV tractor-trailers cost between $450,000 and $500,000, can travel only 300 miles and take 8-10 hours to fully charge.
Kate Childs of J. Vitali Transportation, which moves goods throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts, said the regulatory change could drive businesses like her to other states that don’t impose California’s emissions standards.
“Why wouldn’t I relocate to a state that avoids this craziness and save money on property taxes as well?” Childs said following the press conference. Childs said the limited range of EV trucks and reduced carrying capacity will result in more energy usage as trucks will have to make multiple trips to deliver the same amount of goods.
The push-back from energy companies and truckers comes as Republicans have begun to hold forums across the state to drum up opposition to the regulatory change that is set to be decided by the Regulation Review Committee on November 27. The committee is evenly split between Republicans, who oppose the change, and Democrats who have largely indicated support for the EV transition.
If passed by the Regulation Review Committee, Connecticut would begin limiting the sale of new gasoline powered cars in 2027 with a complete phase out by 2040. Consumers could still purchase used gasoline powered cars or buy new ones out of state. Public comment on the proposed change saw more than 300 people sign up to testify publicly and more than 4,000 written comments submitted.
The proposed undertaking would come at a cost, aside from potentially higher consumer prices, because the state’s electric grid would need to be upgraded to support the increased energy demands for a state that already has some of the highest electricity costs in the continental United States.
Testifying before the Regulation Review Committee, Eversource Vice President of System Planning Digaunto Chatterjee estimated cost of upgrading the electric grid to accommodate a large state fleet of EVs would cost between $1.5 and $2.4 billion – costs that are generally passed on to utility rate payers.
Multiple concerns regarding the costs of EVs were raised during that hearing and during CEMA’s press conference. While EVs cost more to purchase and require more expensive tires due to their increased weight, studies have also shown them to have less maintenance and upkeep costs.
However, the change is supported by Gov. Ned Lamont, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), and various environmental groups around the state who say fewer vehicle emissions will improve health outcomes and help fight climate change. According to DEEP, the transportation sector accounts for 38 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in the state, and the legislature has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 2001 levels by 2030 — a 45 percent reduction.
DEEP’s cost analysis of the regulation found the state would see decreased revenue from the gasoline tax but would see an overall net benefit of $272 million largely due to better health outcomes from fewer emissions in the air. Supporters also argue that technological advancements over the next 17 years will increase the range of EVs and decrease the amount of time it takes to charge a vehicle.
Herb believes that because most of New England’s electric energy comes from fossil fuels, it is simply a matter of moving emissions “from the tail pipe to the smokestack.” According to DEEP, however, electricity generation emissions were down 52 percent from 1990 levels in 2019. The Northeast is powered largely by a combination of natural gas and nuclear power.
Lamont and DEEP had unsuccessfully pushed for Connecticut to implement the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) in 2021, which would have auctioned carbon credits to energy companies and used the revenue to pay for EV charging stations and climate justice initiatives.
TCI never fully got off the ground, however, due to similar concerns that it would increase gasoline costs for residents and following a rapid increase in gasoline costs in the wake of the pandemic, the Connecticut General Assembly suspended the state’s gasoline excise tax until prices dropped again.
State law passed in 2004 committed Connecticut, along with eleven other states, to following California’s emission standards as opposed to federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards, something Herb believes should be rolled back.
“It is important to note that we are not asking the legislature to throw the baby out with the bathwater,” Herb said. “We are asking them to reject California-based regulations that are under consideration and look at adopting the EPA standards that the majority of states already follow.”
Connecticut has seen increased consumer uptake of electric vehicles in recent years on the back of state rebates to buyers. The state has set a goal of putting roughly 125,000 EVs on the road by 2025. Currently, DEEP lists 36,000 registered EVs in the state.
The Connecticut DOT has applied for $52 million in federal funds to increase the number of charging stations over five years.