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The most fuel-efficient car is the one that doesn’t leave the driveway. But when it comes to maximizing the impact of electric vehicle incentives, that’s part of the problem. 

Last week, we told you about recent research by the environmental nonprofit Coltura that found that the more than 2 million electric vehicles on the road in 2021 only reduced gasoline consumption by half a percent. The reason? Most of those cars are being driven infrequently or replacing cars that were already fuel-efficient.

That tracks with an analysis released earlier this year by the automotive marketplace iSeeCars, which examined data on 860,000 3-year-old cars and found electric vehicles were on average driven far fewer miles than their gasoline counterparts. 

The utility serving Burlington, Vermont, is hoping to address that by proposing new incentives aimed at “superusers” who consume 1,000 gallons of gasoline or more per year — for example, people who commute long distances because they can’t afford to live closer to their jobs. More than half of those drivers earn less than the median income, meaning the incentives will, in theory, go to people who need them most. 

“We’re slowly getting people to understand that you can more cost-effectively reduce emissions from the transportation sector if your resources prioritize the highest mileage drivers,” said Rob Sargent, Coltura’s policy director.

More clean energy news

🚘 Speaking of electric cars: Seven major automakers last week announced a joint venture to build at least 30,000 fast-charging stations across North America in an attempt to compete with Tesla’s charging network, and the Chevy Bolt won’t be killed off after all. (Canary Media, Washington Post)

🏡 … and speaking of equity: Chicago is launching a $15 million initiative to help low-income residents decarbonize their buildings through grants for electric stoves, heat pumps and energy efficiency measures. (Energy News Network)

🌡️ “We are in uncharted territory”: scientists say they already have enough data to declare July the hottest month on record, with some saying the earth has not seen this much heat in the atmosphere in 120,000 years. (Associated Press)

😎 Keeping their cool: A buildup of Texas solar is pushing the grid through record-breaking demand this summer, providing roughly 15% of its power during the day when air conditioner use in homes and businesses spikes. (KXAS)

☢️ A major nuclear milestone: As a new unit at Georgia’s Plant Vogtle goes online, seven years late and $17 billion over budget, analysts are skeptical whether the country’s first new reactor in 30 years represents a renaissance or a “swan song” for nuclear power. (Associated Press, Canary Media)

Breaking the clean energy bottleneck: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved rule changes aimed at speeding up grid interconnection for renewable energy projects, with more than 2,000 GW waiting in the queue. (Reuters)

⛏️ Stuck in the middle: The U.S. is eyeing Mongolia as a source of raw materials needed for clean energy manufacturing, but shipping will be a challenge as the country is completely landlocked between Russia and China. (E&E News)

👮 Law and order: A former FBI agent describes the “jaw-dropping” investigation and case against former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and the lawmaker’s role in a utility bribery scandal. (Columbus Dispatch)

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Ken is the director of the Energy News Network at Fresh Energy and is a founding editor of both Midwest Energy News and Southeast Energy News. Prior to joining Fresh Energy, he was the managing editor for online news at Minnesota Public Radio. He started his journalism career in 2002 as a copy editor for the Duluth News Tribune before spending five years at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, where he worked as a copy editor, online producer, features editor and night city editor. A Nebraska native, Ken has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree from the University of Oregon. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.