Get an electric car for Christmas? Here’s how many places Pa. has to charge it | Friday Morning Coffee

(Image via pxHere.com)

Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

When it comes to the debate over the benefits of electric cars, we’d like to get you started with three numbers:

Nearly 1.2 million: The number of electric cars on the road in the United States today.
81 percent: The increase in purchases in electric cars between 2017 and 2018.
22,600: The number of electric car charging stations in California — the most of any state in the nation.

The above data comes courtesy of our friends at Stateline.org, who observe that, while the popularity of electric vehicles is exploding, it’s serious feast of famine time if you’re looking for a place to plug them in.

And consumer fears about a lack of infrastructure could drive down purchases, thus minimizing the environmental gain from such vehicles.

“Drivers can experience ‘range anxiety,’ wondering how far they can drive before the next charge and where to find a station before the car dies,” Stateline’s Elaine Povich writes. “It’s the electric vehicle equivalent of driving a traditional car on an isolated country road with the gas gauge hovering near empty.”

Because we’re just nuts about data visualizations, here’s the current nationwide state of play when it comes to access to charging stations:

Pennsylvania has 1,131 electric car charging stations statewide, which is, frankly, far more than we thought the state would have. It’s also better than some of our neighboring states: Ohio, at 1,115 is the Keystone State’s nearest rival, while New Jersey has 846 charging stations.

West Virginia has 220 charging stations. And Delaware boasts a paltry 164 charging stations, according to the Stateline map.

Pennsylvania gets lapped, however, by Maryland, which has 1,808 charging stations, while New York has 3,205 charging stations (but, we’re sure, probably no place to park them that doesn’t require a second mortgage).

Other states, such as  Colorado, Washington, California and New Mexico passed laws in 2019 calling on their state utility regulators “to write rules governing electric charging stations to encourage EV adoption,” Stateline reported.

In the Garden State, “a bill to incentivize electric car buying and installation of charging stations passed a Senate committee in December with just one vote in opposition. Other states also are considering bills addressing electric vehicles and charging stations,” Stateline reported.

As the Capital-Star’s Stephen Caruso reported in September, lawmakers in Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled state House advanced a bill requiring electric vehicle owners to pay a $250 annual fee for the wear-and-tear they impose on the Commonwealth’s roads. The bill is currently before the House Appropriations Committee.

“We are short on charging infrastructure across the board in every state, even the states that are doing better,” Matt Stanberry, of Advanced Energy Economy, a trade group dedicated to reducing carbon emissions, told Stateline. “We are all playing catch-up.”

Our Stuff.
Gov. Tom Wolf 
has announced a new statewide initiative to combat the stigma of mental illness and connect Pennsylvanians with the services that they need. Elizabeth Hardison leads our coverage with the inter-agency effort launched Thursday.

And in a rite of winter, the state Dept. of Agriculture unveiled this year’s butter sculpture at the Pa. Farm ShowIt’s as Gritty as you would hope it to be. The Farm Show opens Saturday and runs until Jan. 11.

From our partners at The Philadelphia Tribune: Homicides rose for the second straight year in the state’s largest city, and once again, Blacks were the majority of victims. And Philly Mayor Jim Kenney is keeping mum on ‘additional penalties’ for Mummers who wore blackface during Wednesday’s annual parade.

On our Commentary Page, opinion regular Bruce Ledewitz has a few thoughts on AG Bill Barr’s notorious speech at Notre Dame University last October — and how he missed the chance to deliver a truly resonant message. And Penn State’s Simon Haeder says Pa. needs to prepare for the worst if the Supremes eventually strike down Obamacare.

A Marcellus shale gas-drilling site along PA Route 87, Lycoming County (Photo via Nicholas A. Tonelli | Flickr Commons)

Elsewhere.
Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry used to boom — now it’s in a period of bustThe Observer-Reporter of Washington, Pa. explains what’s happening.
After a week of bad air pollution in W. Pa., the Allegheny County Health Department has announced plans to handle the next spate of the same, Pittsburgh City Paper reports.
Pa. Turnpike tolls will rise by an additional 6 percent on SundayPennLive has the details.
The Philly Chamber wanted big political change in the city — it got it. But it wasn’t the kind it expected, the Inquirer reports.

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:

The Morning Call runs down the new state laws taking effect this year — and how they’ll affect you.
A transgender state employee has sued the state for not covering their transition surgery in the state’s health plan, WITF-FM reports.
Erie’s Port Authority is putting the focus on bay front bluffs at Lake ErieGoErie reports.
The Scranton School Board appointed its newest member, the Times-Tribune reports.
U.S. House retirements for 2020 are already exceeding the average for past CongressesRoll Call reports.

WolfWatch.
Gov. Tom Wolf 
heads to Muhlenberg College in Allentown for a 2 p.m. roundtable on mental health issues and a new state initiative to address them.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s a new favorite from English dance producer Jolliffe, it’s ‘Alright by the Dawn.’

Friday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link. 
Toronto extended its winning streak to 8-0-1 over its last nine games, beating Winnipeg 6-3 on Thursday night. The Leafs’ William Nylander notched three points on the way to the win.

And now you’re up to date.

John L. Micek
A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press