Want to Achieve Better Electric Car Policies in Your City or State? Look No Further

People often ask what the best policies are to further incentivize making the switch to driving electric vehicles (EVs), so we teamed up with our friends at Plug In America to launch AchiEVe: Model State & Local Policies to Accelerate Electric Vehicle Adoption. It catalogues some of the most effective initiatives driving the growth of clean transportation today, with links to specific templates and real-world examples so they can be adopted in communities anywhere.

Thanks to many of the smart and supportive policies helping to accelerate the widespread adoption of EVs here in the U.S., EV sales were up 26 percent in the U.S. in 2017 compared with the previous year, and 2018 sales are on track to exceed that. Today, EVs account for less than 2 percent of all new light-duty vehicles in the United States. EVs are no doubt on the rise, but far more electric cars and buses are needed, and quickly, if we want to transition off oil and meet our climate goals. That’s where this toolkit comes in. It’s designed to accelerate the switch to these clean vehicles in effective, sustainable, and equitable ways.


Photo credit: Dave Roberts, Drive Electric Vermont (National Drive Electric Week in White River Junction, VT)

Expanding Charging Access

Owners of gas-guzzling vehicles have no trouble finding a place to fuel up, but for people who drive EVs, fueling happens differently -- whether it’s at home, at work, or on the go. That's why, as the growth of electric mobility continues to gain momentum, the need for more accessible and large-scale charging networks becomes even more pressing.

According to some studies, installing EV-friendly wiring at the time of construction can be 64 to 75 percent less expensive than post-construction installations. Some cities, such as Atlanta, are making commitments, adopting building codes and passing ordinances requiring new homes, buildings and parking structures be “EV ready,” which means having the conduit and wiring in place to accommodate EV charging.

Disadvantaged communities face some of the biggest barriers to charging access, as they less frequently are homeowners and often live in multi-unit buildings without dedicated charging spaces.  San Diego Gas & Electric's Power Your Drive Program is deploying 3,500 charging stations at 350 site installations at workplaces and multi-unit dwellings. Installations within disadvantaged areas are exempt from the one-time participation payment.

States, cities, and utilities should adopt programs that increase access to electric transportation and charging for all communities, because everyone deserves to breathe clean air and access clean transportation choices, regardless of income or location.

Electric Transit and Government Fleets

Electrifying our government fleets and public transportation systems saves taxpayers money and is good for public health. It’s also an effective way to put the importance of prioritizing clean transportation into the public spotlight.

The City of Seattle determined it would save $2 million over 10 years if it purchased 300 electric vehicles instead of hybrids for its city passenger vehicles, and save more than $3 million compared with gas vehicles. Seattle’s King County Metro Transit also committed to acquiring 120 all-electric transit buses by 2020, with plans to fully electrify its bus fleet.

Along with deploying 95 electric buses into its fleet, Los Angeles County Metro has committed to replace all 2,200 of its CNG-powered buses with a fully 100 percent electric bus fleet by 2030. The 2017 council motion can be found here. California transit agencies in Antelope Valley and San Bernardino County have also committed to all electric buses by at least 2030.

Electric buses cost far less over time due to reduced maintenance and fuel costs and studies show electric buses are up to 8 times more efficient than CNG buses. Full environmental and economic benefits of electric buses are here. In our toolkit, you will find templates for fleet mandates and electric bus fleet resolutions.  

Photo Credit: Southern Company/Georgia Power. Three National Drive Electric Week attendees at Tech Square in Atlanta show why they drive electric.

EV-Utility Investments
The role of electric utilities and their regulators cannot be underestimated in the planning for an electric future. In the EV context, the public interest should implement programs that will integrate new electricity load to the benefit of all utility customers usefully and equitably.

Utilities and regulators are stepping up their efforts to put forward or approve policies to install thousands of charging stations and to ensure that time of use, load balancing, and smart-metering programs simultaneously allow us to shift to renewable sources of power and a more efficient grid. To name a few exciting recent developments: a $25M agreement between Duke Energy and NGOs in North Carolina for EV infrastructure; a $10M approved settlement agreement for AEP utility to install EV charging stations in Ohio; and a California regulator-approved $738M (yes, $738M!) EV infrastructure program among the state's three largest utilities. There are significant carve-outs for EV infrastructure in low-income areas, at workplaces, and along highway routes; electric bus and truck investments; and even carve-outs for affiliated battery-storage programs.

State policymakers also have an important role to play by introducing legislation that guides the role of utilities in transportation electrification. Massachusetts authorizes electric utilities to propose EV-related investments and establishes the test that the state’s utility commission, the Department of Public Utilities, must use to review any proposed investments. New Hampshire now clarifies that non-utility owners or operators of charging stations are not considered public utilities, nor subject to regulation by the state’s utility commission, solely by virtue of operating a charging station.


Photo Credit: Mary Lunetta

Consumer Education and Protection

One of the easiest ways for our public leaders to show support for clean transportation is through a proclamation or resolution that emphasizes the benefits of EVs. These proclamations or resolutions can be adopted at the local, city, or state level and are a strong force to continue building momentum to transition to EVs. Here is a link to an example.

In 2017, National Drive Electric Week  -- which is presented nationally by the Sierra Club, Plug In America, and the Electric Auto Association -- proclamations were issued by governors Inslee of Washington, Sununu of New Hampshire, and Ige of Hawaii for their states. Many mayors, from North Dakota, Maryland, Kansas, Illinois, Iowa, California, and elsewhere, also issued EV proclamations for their cities. At the 2018 National Drive Electric Week events coming up September 8-16, we’ll look forward to events where people not only get a chance to check out EVs but also to hear their public officials announce new EV policies.

Electric car adoption is a win/win for all -- people, governments, and the environment. Many stakeholders with diverse interests  stand to benefit from state and local policies that advance electric transportation and charging infrastructure --- from disadvantaged communities located along freeways and major transportation hubs to state and local governments that benefit from savings on fuel and maintenance costs.

This toolkit makes it clear that we need an all-hands-on-deck effort from government, utilities, and transit agencies, and it lays out a full range of actions and policies that are proven to accelerate EV adoption -- both effectively and equitably -- in any state and local community that wants cleaner vehicles and cleaner air.

We encourage policymakers and EV advocates to tailor model policies to best fit the precise needs of your particular state or community and to work with allies to put them into effect where you live.


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