The Earth is what we all have in common.” – Wendell Berry
The Rise of Electric Vehicles
Continued from Page 1
The recent Bipartisan Infrastructure Law established the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, along with $5 billion for EV charging, of which Montana stands to get around $43 million over the next 5 years. Part of that money will be used to extend access along the I-94 corridor and the rest of Highway 2. The end goal is for someone in an EV to be able to drive across the state without worrying about being able to charge their vehicle.
Locally, there is currently a charging station active in Whitefish as well as a couple around Kalispell, with another coming to the Town Pump there. Stations are also planned for Eureka and the Libby Town Pump, while another station in the Libby Chamber parking lot is expected to be ready by Memorial Day.
What are the pros and cons of buying an EV? The first consideration is the initial cost, which is usually 1.5 to 2 times that of a comparable traditional vehicle. Tax incentives from the federal government, currently up to $7500 but expected to increase up to $12,500 with the new legislation, can help to soften the blow. As noted by the University of Montana above, elimination of gas costs, which are currently rising but estimated for most Americans at $2000 to $4000 a year, and the decreased need for maintenance do tend to make the EV cheaper over the life of the vehicle. Current EV batteries are expected to last about 10 years. If you keep the vehicle that long, the cost to replace the battery could run several thousand dollars. The government currently mandates an 8 year/100,000 mile warranty for EV batteries.
Range is another issue to be considered. Most EV currently have a 200 to 400 mile range, but as technology improves, so will the range. Use of vehicle accessories such as air conditioning, heater, and even the radio can decrease the range of the vehicle and this is important to consider when planning any trip. Studies show an average 17% loss of range with use of climate control. Use of the radio decreases range by about 1/3 of a mile every hour it is on. Prolonged speeds greater than 60 MPH have also been shown to decrease range. Most EV are programmed to switch to a slower mode once the battery reaches a 5% charge. This allows the vehicle to make it another twenty miles or so, hopefully far enough to reach a charger. Many EV owners choose to add a charging station at their residence. The vehicle can be charged with 120v, but a 240v Level 2 charger is much faster. Home charging stations can cost up to $500 to install and there is the additional charge for the electricity itself. Each model is different and electricity costs vary depending on location, but the Department of Energy estimates that the average monthly cost for charging one EV is about $55.
Are you interested in owning an EV? New car dealerships across Montana are in the process of ramping up their offerings. For example, Timberline Auto Center in Libby is currently working toward its electric certification and installation of charging equipment with the goal of completing this by mid summer. Ford’s current all electric vehicles are the F-150 Lightening truck, Mustang Mach-e, and E-Transit van. Tesla vehicles can be ordered online. Larger cities with several dealerships offer additional options. If you have questions regarding federal legislation and programs regarding EV, driveelectric.gov is a good resource. If you are planning a journey in your EV or wondering about charging options in a specific area, plugshare.com and the Chargeway app are excellent sources for determining EV charger availability.
By Karen Morrissette, The Montanian
Loggers Spend Two Hours Cleaning Up Local Road Ways
Our Logger Nation continually strives to build strong citizens of the world.
Hot Take on Earth Day: Our Forests are Literally Full of Magic
My childhood “wild place” was nowhere near extraordinary by an outdoor enthusiasts’ standard. It was a truly tiny strip of forest in between my best friend’s house and mine in central Massachusetts. It was mostly flat and littered with moderately large granite boulders. A mix of pine and leafy trees. No matter where you stood in our little forest, our houses could be spotted a few hundred feet away. There was only one short trail connecting our two landscaped lawns. But, oh, how that trail was traveled!
Plush grass and swing sets went unused as we raced towards our wild and untamed forest. In the winter, we made snow caves under pine tree canopies. In the summer, we built fairy homes in dark and mossy rock crevices. Fall was filled with collecting the best and brightest leaves to preserve in scrapbooks. All year round, we remained vigilant, prepared to run from BB gun attacks from older brothers at any moment.
My memory isn’t great, and I don’t remember much about my childhood (sorry to disappoint, mom and dad.) But I remember nearly all the times that my best friend and I spent in those woods: climbing dangerously tall rocks, sledding down dangerously steep hills, racing back home before the last light shone through the oak trees. Finding pure fear and bliss in testing the limits of our scrawny legs and clumsy feet. Changing and growing alongside the flowers and the ferns.
I didn’t know it, but the forests were shaping me, helping me grow into a strong and fearless girl with a passion for soft ground under my feet. I grew up and I eventually moved far away from my magical forest, but my passion for exploring new places, constantly learning new things, and pushing my physical limits stuck with me forever. Since leaving Massachusetts, I’ve been lucky enough to explore countless other magical forests, each one of them providing me with childlike joy and awe.
Getting to reconnect with your inner child, finding pure bliss and wonder from the ferns and flowers is such a precious human experience worth treasuring, worth protecting. Everybody deserves to have these experiences. Kids and adults, today and tomorrow, deserve the chance to grow and change alongside the trees. We all deserve to find our magical backyard forests.
Out here, we are particularly lucky because our local forests are actually magical. Our wild backyard is nothing like my tiny forest amidst housing developments in Massachusetts. Instead, we have thousands of acres of forest with clear-flowing streams, abundant wildlife habitat, ancient trees, and rugged peaks.
We have mountain goats scrambling across cliffs as the sun rises over the rugged peaks. We have grizzly bears descending the mountainside to drink from crystal-clear alpine lakes. We have snow falling silently in snow-blanketed cedar forests. What we have here is as close to magic as you can get on planet earth.
Join me in making sure our forests and peaks are kept this magically wild forever. Become a Friend of the Scotchmans Peaks Wilderness. Help us keep trails open and mountain goats wild. Join us to teach kids about the wonders of our wild backyard. Join me in celebrating Earth Day, every day. Learn more at scotchmanpeaks.org.