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State now issuing electric car safety plates

The plates include an outline of a vehicle with a plug jutting out from the rear to indicate the car is electrically powered. The plates include an outline of a vehicle with a plug jutting out from the rear to indicate the car is electrically powered.
By Travis Andersen
Globe Staff / April 24, 2012
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Massachusetts is becoming the second state in the nation to outfit electric and hybrid vehicles with special license plates that will protect public safety workers responding to accidents, officials said Monday.

Mark Sylvia, commissioner of the state Department of Energy Resources, said in a phone interview that the first run of about 17,600 of the plates are now available at Registry of Motor Vehicles branches across the state.

Only Hawaii offers similar plates in the United States, Sylvia said, and current electric vehicle owners in Massachusetts can swap their existing plates for the new ones free of charge.

Standard registration fees will apply for new electric vehicles, which will automatically receive the plates, he said.

The plates include an outline of a vehicle with a plug jutting out from the rear to indicate the car is electrically powered.

Sylvia said the National Fire Protection Association has recommended special plates for such vehicles to alert first responders, in the event of an accident, that they are dealing with an electric battery.

“You want to make sure that it’s completely disabled,’’ Sylvia said. “It’s also an electric battery, so you want to make sure any issues relative to electric shock are addressed.’’

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation said 30 electric and hybrid models are eligible for the plates.

State officials plan to unveil the plates during a news briefing Tuesday afternoon in Porter Square in Cambridge.

Officials will also mark the installation of electric car charging stations in Porter Square.

Sylvia said at least 60 percent of the 142 charging stations across the state are now fully operational, part of a drive to meet the state’s goal of substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Massachusetts by 2050.

Travis Andersen can be reached at tandersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.

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