Mar. 18—The world may have passed a milestone recently.
"Thirst for gasoline isn't likely to return to pre-pandemic levels, the International Energy Agency forecast, calling a peak for the fuel that has powered personal transportation for more than a century," The Wall Street Journal reported this week.
"We do not think gasoline consumption will come back to 2019 levels again," said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.
That's due in part to the world's shift to electric cars. According to the Edison Electric Institute, there are 1.2 million electric vehicles on the road in the United States now and that will grow by a factor of eight to more than 18 million by the end of the decade.
GM said it is getting out of the combustion-engine business by 2035, Volvo will be all-electric even earlier. In Europe, electric vehicle sales are booming, the Journal reported, and "plug-in electric vehicles accounted for 10.5% of new cars sold in the fourth quarter of 2020."
Closer to home, Joplin-based Liberty utilities said this week that it was signing a "memorandum of cooperation" with nine other Midwest utilities that are working to build charging stations and other infrastructure from Oklahoma to Indiana to support the shift to electric vehicles.
Liberty also proposed a number of pilot programs to the Missouri Public Service Commission that would be of interest to residential and commercial customers who have either shifted to or want to shift to electric vehicles. One of the proposals would, for a $40 monthly fee, set homeowners up with a 240-volt charger and include all the electricity needed to charge vehicles between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Other programs would add up to 115 public charging stations around the region in the next five years, at sites such as shopping centers and malls, as well as for commercial customers that want to offer workplace charging for employees or to charge a fleet of vehicles.
Whether gasoline consumption has peaked remains to be seen, but clearly one of those seismic shifts is underway. VW Group CEO Herbert Diess tweeted this week: "E-mobility has won the race."
We're glad to see Liberty partner with the other utilities to build this network and to help drive — for lack of a better word — demand for a cleaner alternative that is healthier for us as well as the planet.