EDITOR: The proposal by Republican mayoral candidate Robert Catalanello to make Madison an “electric car mecca,” as an ostensibly progressive, “green” program, deserves some serious critique (“Catalanello’s vision: An electric car mecca,” Madison Eagle, Aug. 15, page 3).
While the revenue structure issue he raises merits further consideration, it should not be conflated with utility or environmental policy.
His main argument — that creating an electric car charging oasis and incentive program is somehow a preferable way to “do something about our carbon footprint” — is unhelpful and, perhaps, an attempt to lure environmentalist voters with a green shiny object. Why would we charge our cars down the street from our houses or encourage more traffic and parking headaches from non-residents for minimal return? I am all for electric cars, but the proposal has little to do with substantially improving the carbon footprint of the town.
Rather, if we want to get serious about positive contributions to climate policy at the local level, we should recognize that our ownership of our utility enables us to make decisions about the sources of All our electricity, for cars and everything else. We could, for example, shift toward buying an increasingly large portion from renewables, and one use for structural revenue surplus could be off-setting burdensome cost to low-income residents.
We could also encourage more robust, town-wide efficiency measures and offer residential incentives for solar panels and electric lawn equipment.
These are higher-impact measures that also enhance community spirit and a sense of genuine empowerment in the face of the massive challenge at hand.
8/22/19 Published in the Madison Eagle.