Are Electric Cars Better for the Environment?

It’s a widely held belief that electric vehicles benefit the environment by reducing emissions. On the surface, it makes sense: Electric vehicles do not require gasoline for their engines to run and do not even have tailpipes, so how could they contribute to pollution?

A new study at the University of Minnesota, however, argues that owners of all-electric vehicles who power their cars with electricity sourced primarily from coal-fired power plants actually contribute more to global warming than owners of gasoline-powered cars.

Per the Associated Press article that summarizes the study, “all-electric vehicles cause 86 percent more deaths from air pollution than do cars powered by regular gasoline.”

That’s a startling statistic. But it makes sense considering the increased electricity usage required to charge electric vehicles, and the fact that coal produces 39 percent of the electricity in the U.S. (as of 2013).

While we all can agree that electric vehicles, as Tesla Motors writes on its website, “help lessen global dependence on petroleum-based transportation,” the University of Minnesota study emphasizes the need for all consumers, including electric vehicle car owners, to consider their source of electricity.

At Green Mountain Energy, we’re proud to offer Texas residents the first 100 percent wind electricity plan exclusively for electric vehicle drivers. With the Pollution Free™ Electric Vehicle plan, electric vehicle drivers in Texas can enroll on a special rate to charge their homes and vehicles with electricity sourced from wind.

In addition, we were the first Texas Retail Electric Provider (REP) to partner with eVgo to offer customers on this electricity product the chance to enroll in the eVgo Complete Charging Plan, which combines the 100 percent wind electricity with a home charging dock and related equipment, as well as access to a networked charging infrastructure.


One of the main lessons from this report is that electric vehicles are not inherently bad for the planet, but electric vehicle owners should be aware of the source of power for their vehicles to avoid negative consequences to the environment.

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