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Mateo Messer of Santa Fe plugs in his electric car at a downtown charging station on Thursday. Messer makes deliveries for Kitchen Angels with his father's Nissan Leaf. 

Electric vehicles are the future, with big carmakers firmly committed to the platform.

The general public has yet to embrace the electric vehicle, but like digital cameras, cellphones and other tech that quickly became an indispensable part of daily life, all predictions are the electric vehicle will eclipse the gasoline-powered car in the next 10 to 20 years.

But electric vehicle owners still live in a “range anxiety” era, with their vehicle able to go only about 150 to 350 miles between charges. Range anxiety comes into play if attempting road trips, especially in spread-out Western states.

“We have a lot of holes in New Mexico” with no convenient charging stations, said Colin Messer, director of the Land of Enchantment Clean Cities Coalition. “I know range anxiety. Range anxiety is a real thing. You have to know where to charge up. Electric vehicles are ideal for a second car. If you just start up a car to go to work in town or the store, electric cars are ideal.”

Help may be on the way.

Public Service Company of New Mexico on Dec. 18 filed a Transportation Electrification Program proposal with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission to introduce rebates for residential and nonresidential electric vehicle charging stations and offer discount rates for charging cars during off hours. Pending commission approval, the program could be in place in early 2022, said Alaric Babej, PNM’s project manager in product development.

PNM proposes offering a $500 rebate on the purchase of residential charging stations that can cover a large share, if not the entire cost, of a 240-volt Level 2 charger that can fully power a vehicle in two to six hours. The rebate could be as high as $1,500 for low- and moderate-income residents, Babej said.

“As more and more people get electric vehicles, we wanted to make sure low- and moderate-income people don’t get left behind,” he said. “You can find really good deals on used electric vehicles.”

PNM is complying with a 2019 House bill to produce a Transportation Electrification Program by Dec. 31, but the state’s largest electric company is itself electrifying its fleet. Currently, 7 percent of PNM’s fleet, mostly light duty sedans and some bucket trucks, are electric, with a goal to purchase 25 percent light duty vehicles by 2025 and 50 percent by 2030, Babej said.

“We see that the utility needs to be a leader in this space,” Babej said.

PNM’s transportation electrification proposal also offers $5,000 rebates for installation of Level 2 public charging stations; workplace and fleet charging stations; and charging stations at low- to moderate-income multifamily residential communities, he said.

Santa Fe has about 30 public electric vehicle charging stations, according to PlugShare, a database with more than 300,000 charging stations across the country.

PNM owns four public charging stations — two in Santa Fe at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center and at Sprouts Farmers Market in the DeVargas Center. Other PNM stations are at Coronado Center in Albuquerque and the visitor center in Silver City. Drivers can charge up for free at these PNM stations.

The Genoveva Chavez charging stations were installed in 2017. In 2020, there were 1,200 unique charging sessions lasting 30 minutes to three hours and consuming 10 megawatt hours of power, Babej said.

In addition, electric vehicle owners will be able to charge up at discounted rates during off-peak hours. Residential users will be able to charge vehicles at less than half the normal rate between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Nonresidential users will pay one-third the normal rate in the summer between 5 and 10 p.m. and about half the rate the rest of the year between 5 and 8 a.m. and 5 to 8 p.m.

“I think it’s a good start,” said Glenn Schiffbauer, executive director of the Santa Fe Green Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a down payment from a sustainability standpoint. They cover all the aspects we would want.”

Schiffbauer said the Green Chamber will play an active part in the third component of PNM’s program: community outreach and education.

The Green Chamber was one of 28 entities PNM collaborated with to draft its Transportation Electrification Program. The city of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County were involved, as were the New Mexico Affordable Reliable Energy Alliance and Coalition of Sustainable Communities New Mexico.

Babej said the program as proposed would be in force for about two years, then be updated with the newest development in the electric car world.

“It’s a nascent market,” Babej said. “Where PNM can get involved is addressing these barriers,” like residential charging stations and covering more of New Mexico with public charging stations.

Electric vehicle sales have grown steadily during the 2010s but only started to become a mainstream player in 2018, which saw an 81 percent increase in U.S. sales from 2017, according to the Edison Electric Institute.

The electric vehicle count in New Mexico has nearly tripled from 716 vehicles registered in 2017 to 2,046 in 2020. Santa Fe County has seen a surge in electric vehicles from 145 in 2017 to 422 in 2020, according to the state Taxation and Revenue Department, which oversees the New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division.

Colin Messer has leased a Nissan Leaf electric car for about two years and his son, Mateo Messer, 24, drives the Leaf to make deliveries for Kitchen Angels one to four times a week.

“To be honest, I like the power. That’s probably the biggest selling point for me,” Messer said. “It has the ease of modern technology. It’s very responsive.”

Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts electric vehicles will achieve 10 percent of global passenger vehicle sales by 2025, 28 percent by 2030 and 58 percent by 2040. Global sales were at about 2.6 percent in 2019. Bloomberg did acknowledge the “market will be bumpy for the next three years” due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As with many things, New Mexico faces the urban-rural divide with the shift to electric vehicles, said Charles Henson, president of the New Mexico Automotive Dealers Association.

“I think that until ranchers, farmers and tradesmen find the electric pickup truck a viable option, we will most likely move at a slow pace of acceptance” in New Mexico, he said.

New Mexico awaits the Ford F-150 electric truck, potentially set for a 2022 release.

“It’s going to be the game-changer for much of New Mexico,” Schiffbauer said.

(18) comments

Spencer Ralston

Wake up you naysayers. Electric vehicles are indeed the future. They are faster, have less moving parts, require virtually no maintenance or trips to the gas station and can be charged overnight in your garage or driveway. Fossil fuels contribute to global warming and air pollution, and internal combustion engines (ICE) are more expensive to maintain. Before long most of the electric grid will be solar and wind powered. I’ve owned a Tesla for the past year and it’s by far the best car I’ve ever owned. I don’t ever see me buying an ICE car again!

Richard Reinders

Here is an interesting read if you think electric cars have no carbon footprint.

https://www.newsmax.com/hansbaumann/electriccars-oil/2020/09/25/id/988860/

Mike Johnson

EVs won't save the world.......https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/460496-electric-vehicles-wont-save-us-from-climate-change

Mike Johnson

More ridiculous left wing fantasies of free stuff. The technology and infrastructure to make an EV practical in a place like NM is 30 years away at least. No amount of "rebates" (they don't mention who pays, it won't be PNM, most likely tax payers) will make this folly something NM will do in most people's lifetimes.

Richard Irell

Where in the world did you get the idea that this is free stuff? The only fantasy I see is your preconceived notions.

Mike Johnson

"Plug-in vehicles may be eligible for a credit of up to $7,500 back on your federal taxes, and several thousand more in state, local, and electric utility incentives." This is free stuff, except someone, the tax payers, are paying for it, so it is only free to those that buy these follies and don't pay taxes.......except many who pay taxes think it is free and are too stupid to know better.

Richard Reinders

[thumbup][thumbup]

Derek Gzaskow

well a Toyota salesman explained it to like this, I can sell you a rav hybrid for 34 k or a gas rav for 24 k. 10 grand can buy one what? 8 years of gas? I do like the fed discount though. The 25 k Tesla might change the game for alot of people.

One has to buy a Hyundai Kona, Volkswagaon elec golf, in Colorado Springs , why? Because at the 90 k service no one in NM is certified to work on the vehicle. BMW are cheap but almost as small as a golf cart, Ford , chevy and Honda have nice options , and I guess the prius' battery is only 1500 hundred to replace?

Robert Bartlett

It would make more sense for PNM to focus on getting electricity to every home in New Mexico rather than this boondoggle.

Philip Taccetta

The technology to electrify every home is here. It’s called solar power. Surely you’ve heard of photovoltaics Robert? A lot cheaper than running infrastructure to supply electricity to them!

Does it work? I’ve been off grid using photovoltaics for almost 40 years.

Robert Bartlett

Maybe so, but the fact that so many homes, particularly in the Navajo nation have no electricity is a disgrace.

Philip Taccetta

I just gave you the obvious answer.

Jim Klukkert

Heck, we can't even get dependable Internet nor cell phone service to the Pojoaque Valley, why would anyone expect to see electricity service for all on the Dine Nation.

Good point Robert Bartlett.

Yes, a positive response to Robert Bartlett from Jim Klukkert, will wonders never cease?!?!

Mike Johnson

[thumbup] Agreed. Today EVs make up a whopping 0.81% of the car market sales in NM.....

Richard Irell

But growing everyday. It would help if the state allowed auto manufacturers to sell directly to the consumer. But, for now they put the auto dealers interests above those of the public.

Philip Taccetta

Mike Johnson

What percentage of sales did Henry Ford have when he went into production?

Mike Johnson

Ford was but one of many manufacturers of the early automobile. But Fiord went from making 1708 cars in 1903, to making 734,000 in 15 years, and 1.8 million 5 years later. And of course the big problem in those days was have a road to drive any car on. No comparison to EVs.

David Gunter

Please clean up this sloppy article.

First, the charging station at the DeVargas Mall Sprouts location is not free to the general public—it is pay-per-use. Certain Nissan Leaf owners are allowed to use it for free for purchasing that vehicle.

There is a free fast DC charging station at the Sprouts on Zafrano, however, something worth mentioning.

Finally, you introduced Mateo Messer and in the very same paragraph quoted him as Mateo Leaf, after the car he drives.

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