Choose Your Own Road Trip: A Toolkit for Transportation Electrification
Electrification of the transportation sector provides an opportunity for states to save citizens money on fuel, improve the local economy, address national security concerns, improve public health and combat climate change. Some of these attributes have more urgency than ever, such as the need for local jobs and improved public health. But experience and studies show what other people may not see — the cost of inaction. Proactive legislation and state planning are needed to realize the full magnitude of these benefits. Without such actions, the benefits will be lost.
Electric vehicles (EVs) are a relatively new technology. California and about one-third of other states have started to enact EV legislation, but roughly two-thirds of states are still in the early stages. This is a complex issue that spans various public policy topics: transportation, electricity, air quality and others. It is an area that demands simplification. Recognizing this, RAP has assembled the variety of state legislative options to help advocates and decision-makers envision the benefits of an electrified transportation roadmap and the pitfalls to avoid.
The RAP EV Roadmap includes multiple options for how states might address transportation electrification planning, foster incentives, remove barriers and engage regulatory agencies. The options, based upon existing state legislation, allow states to “choose their own adventure” to most effectively meet their needs. The Roadmap provides a full vision of different elements of transportation electrification. Seeing only a portion of the policy options on transportation electrification is like planning a road trip from New Jersey to California, when you can only see Oklahoma.
But electrification of transportation is going to look different in a state such as Oklahoma, with its rural geography, than it will in, for example, compact, urbanized Rhode Island. To ensure that both its urban and rural residents benefit from the transition to EVs, Washington state chose to enable regional transportation planning organizations to take the lead, recognizing that different parts of the state would have different needs. New Jersey is in the process of creating an “essential charging network” to provide a critical mass of high-powered fast charging stations for public use. The Roadmap provides plenty of options from states on how to electrify in a manner that works for their unique circumstances.
For state legislators interested in electrification of transportation, we have divided legislative actions into four areas to help determine the best choices for their state.
1. Plan Your Destination
Electrification of transportation offers a variety of advantages to states, but inherent barriers mean that state legislative action is needed to realize the greatest benefits and avoid pitfalls. State EV plans have included some or all of the following components:
- EV goals and timelines
- State EV policy plans to coordinate across agencies
- Leading by example by electrifying state fleets
- Enabling regular statewide assessments of EVs
- Plans for future transportation funding sources
2. Drive Investment With Incentives
Recognizing the wide range of benefits that EVs offer, many states have provided direct financial support to encourage the electrification of transportation. We have learned that incentives are most effective, transparent, and durable when they are applied at the point of purchase. Non-financial incentives such as preferred parking or use of high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes are also ffective inducements.
3. Remove Roadblocks
Roadblocks to transportation electrification, such as lack of charging infrastructure and building codes that don’t accommodate EV charging, are important to address. Legislators can take action to remove these barriers to ensure that:
- Consumer-friendly charging infrastructure and EV charging is widely available.
- Building codes provide for an electrified future.
- Electrification benefits all of society, including rural and low-income communities.
4. Empower Regulators
The electricity sector intersects with electrification of transport in several important ways, which means that state regulators — primarily public utility commissions (PUCs) but also energy offices, transportation agencies and others — will need sufficient legislative direction to make the best use of EVs. To most effectively plan for the electrification of the transportation system, PUCs will need to:
- Require utilities to integrate EV load projections and any investment in charging infrastructure into the utilities’ regularly filed resource plans.
- Implement tariffs that make the most use of EVs as a resource to the grid.
- Provide direction on utility involvement in charging infrastructure and cost recovery of utility investment.
- Enable performance-based regulation (PBR) incentives for utility charging infrastructure achievements.
What’s In the Kit?
In total the kit provides:
- A two-page fact sheet that articulates the benefits of electric transportation to states on one side, and a high-level overview of legislative policies to achieve it on the other.
- A policy guide that provides an overview of electric vehicle issues and options. It begins by looking at the merits of EV legislation to answer the all-important question: “Why?” From there this resource outlines the “what” and “how” of the many issues and options.
- A book of model legislation that offers a menu of options for most provisions, allowing legislators to choose what works best for the circumstances in their state. Annotations explain the pros and cons of each provision and analyze the various options offered. Many of the provisions are based on existing legislation from across the United States but have been changed or edited to make them more widely applicable.
- A PowerPoint presentation that explains the various options and offers best practices for advancing EVs. Legislators and other stakeholders can use these materials as a starting point to explain the issues to their colleagues and constituents.
Benefits from electric transportation aren’t just theoretical. They’re real and measurable. Studies suggest that the EV transition could generate between 52,000 to 109,000 net new jobs annually between 2015 and 2040, and a $2.5 billion to $9.9 billion increase per year in gross domestic product. Electrified transportation can help states promote job growth through the buildout of EV infrastructure, address environmental justice concerns, and realize air quality benefits and improved electric system efficiency.
As the country seeks to emerge from the recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic — GDP decreased by $2.15 trillion in the second quarter of 2020, and in April unemployment reached the greatest level since the Great Depression — states can realize the benefits of electric vehicles and get on the road to economic recovery.