“Town Facilities Director Ron Bohonowicz does a great deal of driving to Amherst municipal buildings and properties. He is currently driving an old Crown Vic,” says Stephanie Ciccarello, Amherst’s Sustainability Coordinator. “Replacing his vehicle to a highly energy efficient electric vehicle would better reflect Amherst’s commitment to being a Green Community and in keeping with the Town’s commitment to address climate change.”
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, automobiles account for 30% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. A shift to cleaner vehicles, especially those that rely on electricity, can make a huge difference as the electric grid is increasingly cleaner than gasoline. The Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard mandates that each electricity supplier (including the major utilities) in Massachusetts must purchase an increasing supply of renewable energy in its electricity load—10% in 2015, increasing by 1% each year thereafter. Environmental groups expect this escalator percentage to increase in order to meet Massachusetts’s Global Warming Solutions Act mandate of 80% reduction in emissions by 2050.
Ms. Ciccarello plans to apply for a grant to receive $7500 through the Massachusetts Department of Energy’s Electric Vehicle Incentive Program (MA EVIP) for the purchase of a second Town-owned electric vehicle. However, the grant itself is not substantial enough to purchase the vehicle, so she’s trying to raise another $10,000 through Amherst’s “Flip the Switch” campaign. For the past year, Amherst has been collaborating with Mass Energy Consumers Alliance, a non-profit that offers a green electricity option to households and businesses. Through the “Flip the Switch” campaign, Mass Energy has agreed to make a donation for each Amherst resident or business that signs up for their green electricity program at www.massenergy.org/amherst.
“It’s a win-win for climate goals,” says Ciccarello. “In order to raise money for an EV that will reduce the town’s greenhouse gas emissions, we’re encouraging residents to switch their electricity source, which also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.” Ciccarello states the Town has raised nearly $3,000, but needs to reach the goal of $10,000 before the holidays. That means 180 more households and businesses need to “flip the switch” by December 20th, or opportunity to purchase the vehicle may pass.
The Town plans to dedicate the vehicle to the memory of the late Dr. Emlen Jones, who had a long history of striving to make Amherst a better place. A local pediatrician and environmental activist, he was a strong proponent for electric vehicles and member of the Pioneer Valley Electric Automobile Association (PVEAA).
“We really hope Amherst residents will rally behind this cause and that they will ‘flip the switch’ and help the Town reach its goal” said Ciccarello. Those interested to “flip the switch” can visit www.massenergy.org/amherst or call Mass Energy at 800-287-3950.