by the numbers

New report reveals EV adoption in Texas remains low

In the latest installment of the Texas Trends survey, only 5.1 percent of Texans currently drive an electric-powered car, truck, or SUV. Photo via Getty Images

Interest in electric vehicles remains low in Texas, according to a recent report by University of Houston and Texas Southern University.

In the latest installment of the Texas Trends survey, only 5.1 percent of Texans currently drive an electric-powered car, truck, or SUV. Nearly 60 percent said they were not too likely or not at all likely to consider leasing or purchasing an electric vehicle in the future.

Respondents said that the largest factor in not opting for an EV was scarcity of charging stations. Other holdbacks included higher purchase prices, and not being able to charge an EV at home.

Acceptance of EVs did vary by respondents’ ethnicity, income, political affiliation and age:

-Asian-American respondents expressed the most interest (57 percent of respondents) in someday purchasing or leasing an EV.

-Those in the highest earning bracket voiced the highest interest in owning or leasing an EV one day. About 40% of those with an annual family income exceeding $80,000 said they'd consider an EV

-About 70% of Republicans and more than 60% of independents said they were not likely to ever buy or lease an EV

The researchers also posed an analysis to test if respondents would be more willing to purchase or lease an EV with lower purchasing prices, lower operating costs and decreased charging times. The factor that seemed to sway respondents most was length/duration of driving range on a single charge.

"If driving distances were longer on an EV’s single charge than with a full tank in a gas-powered vehicle–along with hypothetical situations lowered purchase prices, lowered operating costs and decreased charging times–respondents indicated they would go electric," according to a release from UH.

The EV portion of the report is the latest installment in the Texas Trends survey, a five-year project to study the state’s changing population and opinions, which was launched in 2021.

Other portions of the study focused on state propositions, school vouchers, primary elections, the summer heat wave and climate change.

The survey was conducted between Oct. 6 and Oct. 18 in English and Spanish for 1,914 respondents.

According to the report, 51 percent of Texans believe climate change significantly impacts extreme weather events. About 47 percent of those who acknowledge the impact of climate change on weather are likely to consider buying an electric vehicle.

About three-quarters (75.8 percent) of Texans describe the summer of 2023 as hotter than previous summers.

Meanwhile, the City of Houston has been working to accelerate EV adoption in the area.

Evolve Houston, founded through Houston's Climate Action Plan, awarded its inaugural eMobility Microgrant Initiative this summer to 13 groups, neighborhoods and an individual working to make electric vehicles accessible to all Houstonians.

The city also approved $281,000 funding for the expansion of free electric vehicle rideshare services in communities that are considered underserved by utilizing services like RYDE and Evolve Houston. Click here to read more.

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A View From HETI

Governor Abbott said he was sending a letter to the Public Utility Commission of Texas requiring it to investigate why restoration has taken so long and what must be done to fix it. Photo via X/Governor Abbott

With around 270,000 homes and businesses still without power in the Houston area almost a week after Hurricane Beryl hit Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday said he's demanding an investigation into the response of the utility that serves the area as well as answers about its preparations for upcoming storms.

“Power companies along the Gulf Coast must be prepared to deal with hurricanes, to state the obvious,” Abbott said at his first news conference about Beryl since returning to the state from an economic development trip to Asia.

While CenterPoint Energy has restored power to about 2 million customers since the storm hit on July 8, the slow pace of recovery has put the utility, which provides electricity to the nation’s fourth-largest city, under mounting scrutiny over whether it was sufficiently prepared for the storm that left people without air conditioning in the searing summer heat.

Abbott said he was sending a letter to the Public Utility Commission of Texas requiring it to investigate why restoration has taken so long and what must be done to fix it. In the Houston area, Beryl toppled transmission lines, uprooted trees and snapped branches that crashed into power lines.

With months of hurricane season left, Abbott said he's giving CenterPoint until the end of the month to specify what it'll be doing to reduce or eliminate power outages in the event of another storm. He said that will include the company providing detailed plans to remove vegetation that still threatens power lines.

Abbott also said that CenterPoint didn't have “an adequate number of workers pre-staged" before the storm hit.

Following Abbott's news conference, CenterPoint said its top priority was “power to the remaining impacted customers as safely and quickly as possible,” adding that on Monday, the utility expects to have restored power to 90% of its customers. CenterPoint said it was committed to working with state and local leaders and to doing a “thorough review of our response.”

CenterPoint also said Sunday that it’s been “investing for years” to strengthen the area’s resilience to such storms.

The utility has defended its preparation for the storm and said that it has brought in about 12,000 additional workers from outside Houston. It has said it would have been unsafe to preposition those workers inside the predicted storm impact area before Beryl made landfall.

Brad Tutunjian, vice president for regulatory policy for CenterPoint Energy, said last week that the extensive damage to trees and power poles hampered the ability to restore power quickly.

A post Sunday on CenterPoint's website from its president and CEO, Jason Wells, said that over 2,100 utility poles were damaged during the storm and over 18,600 trees had to be removed from power lines, which impacted over 75% of the utility's distribution circuits.

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