Rob Roper

Rob Roper

By Rob Roper

Anthony Roisman, chair of Vermont’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is making the media rounds pushing the idea that we need to move to “wartime footing” in an effort to reach the state’s goals for electric vehicles (EVs) by 2025.

These goals are, of course, insanely absurd. They would require Vermont to have 50,000 to 60,000 electric vehicles on the road in less than six years. That’s means adding roughly 10,000 EVs a year. Now, keep in mind that cumulatively over all the years that EVs and hybrids have been a thing (the first Prius came out in 1997) Vermonters have registered less than 3000 EVs — total.

Why is this? Well, the short answer is Vermonters do not want these cars. At least not in the numbers our politicians would like us to want them.

A report to the legislature on “Promoting the Ownership and Use of Electric Vehicles in Vermont” cites the more detailed reasons, “The barriers identified include, but are not limited to, the price of new electric vehicles, the perceived limited distance that an EV can travel on a single charge, and the limited availability of public charging locations. Though not cited as often as these barriers, lack of vehicle choice….” In other words, they are too expensive, unreliable for long distances, inconvenient to operate, and functionally impractical. All good reasons not to waste your money on them.

Our politicians’ solution: force you to waste your money on them!

The recommendations in the report all come down to taxpayer funded subsidies of one kind or another — a $7500 federal subsidy, a $1500 subsidy through your electric utility, subsidies for charging stations, exemptions from the sales tax for EV buyers, etc. and so on. So, the pitch from Honest Anthony the electric car salesman is, “How much of your money will it take to put your neighbor in this crappy car?” And he’s willing to go to war on your wallet to make it happen!

This is NOT the proper role of government.

Especially when you consider that this really amounts to a “war” on lower income Vermonters, who can’t afford even a subsidized EV even if they wanted one, to benefit higher income Vermonters who could probably afford an EV without the subsidy, if they wanted one. This is a policy that forces the single mom driving the used minivan to subsidize the money manager driving a Tesla.

I guess our government hasn’t reached the outright dictatorial point where they feel comfortable forcing us to buy the kind of car they want us to drive (as opposed to what we’d choose for ourselves). But they have no problem forcing us to buy that car, through higher taxes and fees, for someone else. A distinction without much of a difference.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute and co-host of EAI’s Common Sense Radio program on WDEV, Waterbury, Vermont. He lives in Stowe with his wife and two children.

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