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Close to Home: EVs, the next step in being carbon-free

Just as we shop local and eat local, we can now also fuel and drive local. Practical, affordable electric vehicles available today allow us to cut our reliance on fossil fuel.

We spend $850 million per year to import gas and diesel into Sonoma County. That’s a lot of money leaving the local economy in exchange for fuel that literally goes up in smoke. It also represents a huge opportunity to localize the economics of our transportation sector and reverse the climate-changing legacy of our tailpipe emissions.

The Center for Climate Protection recently released a white paper on electric vehicles showing that Sonoma County residents are already making the switch, with more than 1,900 EVs cruising Sonoma County roads - and a new one hitting the streets every seven hours. Drivers are switching their fuel to electricity, saving money and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The day has finally arrived when we can have stylish, practical electric cars fueled by low- and no-carbon electricity provided locally.

Electric cars are now affordable and available. Ford, Nissan, Fiat, Chevrolet, BMW, Toyota and Tesla all have cars on sale in Sonoma County. By changing the fuel we use from expensive, polluting oil to electricity, fuel costs drops dramatically. A Nissan Leaf costs less than 4 cents per mile to drive, compared with 23 cents per mile for a gas-powered sedan. As EV makes and models diversify, and battery ranges are extended, EV drivers enjoy the freedom of mobility to meet all their transportation needs.

Sonoma County is a national thought and lifestyle leader. We were first to tax ourselves to preserve open space, the first to use recycled water for irrigation, among the first to create a clean power agency and now we are leading in the transportation revolution.

About two-thirds of Sonoma County’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, and 80 percent of all trips in Sonoma County are still in single-occupancy, gas-powered cars. Changing the fuel we use is the fastest, biggest impact we can make for the local economy and the global environment. We can have modern, more efficient and cheaper transportation without giving up mobility or comfort.

We author this piece together from the perspective of EV pride and EV envy. One of us already made the switch and now proudly fuels his electric vehicle as easily as he charges his phone.

The money saved in gas and maintenance alone largely covers the lease cost of his Nissan Leaf - and the vehicle is a blast to drive.

Furthermore, by signing up for Sonoma Clean Power’s 100 percent renewable “Evergreen” program, he enjoys truly carbon-free driving. The car can go anywhere in the county and has never run out of juice.

The other of us is currently experiencing a serious case of EV envy that has only one cure.

With so many options to choose from, including plug-in hybrid EVs that can drive cross-country if needed and monthly lease prices under $200, there is no reason not to go electric on your next car purchase. The only decision left is which electric car to buy or lease.

Go on a test drive at a local dealership or come and see us today at Coddingtown Mall where a range of electric vehicles will be available for test drives as part of national Drive Electric week.

The time to fuel and drive local is now.

Lawrence Jaffe is on the board of the Center for Climate Protection, and Doron Amiran is the EV program manager for the organization. The new EV report is available at climateprotection.org. The Drive Electric event will take place today from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the north parking lot of Coddingtown Mall in Santa Rosa.

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