Transportation planning and energy costs

BRATTLEBORO — Perhaps the advent of self-driving cars could open up a new business model for rural communities.

An autonomous taxi service offered or subsidized by the Agency of Transportation could provide a stopgap for elderly and isolated members of the rural community.

The car itself could service multiple towns in a wide radius, and community ownership could roll the cost of ownership into the town or county budget - much like existing bus routes, but much more flexible, and on an ad-hoc basis, allowing for unprecedented flexibility without the costs associated with cab services.

As far as cycling infrastructure is concerned, southern Vermont in particular has a few hurdles: topography, infrastructure, and climate.

Cycling as a form of transportation is ideally less of a hassle than driving, walking, or taking public transportation. It will require a good deal of effort to make that a reality in southern Vermont; I hope more effort goes towards promoting dense, compact towns and separate routes for cars and pedestrians/cyclists.

Beyond that, the creation of rail-trails and other cycling infrastructure could be a boon to the tourism economy of Vermont and allow travel farther afield.

At the moment, I haven't heard of aqueous storage batteries - apparently, the technology hasn't yet been implemented, but figures run between $250 to $600 per kilowatt hour of installed capacity.

This as-yet experimental technology would have to be paired with the installation of over-renewables. By the 2015 Energy Plan, calls have been made for the installation of 90,000 acres of solar panels, and siting of wind turbines across roughly one-third of the ridgelines in the state.

Vermont ranks eighth in the nation in terms of electricity cost. At what point does the levelized cost of electricity enter the equation?

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