The market for electric vehicles — from cars to buses to delivery vans — continues to expand around the world, and the pace of innovation is accelerating. While current public health and economic challenges may pose a temporary roadblock, it seems clear that the long-term future of the transportation sector lies in electrification.
In the policy world, the conversation about getting the EV transition right is happening across a broad spectrum of interested parties: trade groups like the Smart Electric Power Alliance and the Alliance for Transportation Electrification; groups protecting consumers and looking out for social justice like the National Consumer Law Center and the Greenlining Institute; the various national labs, and even more conservative commentators like the R Street Institute or Fox News. Legislatures have been talking about it, and regulators — informed by their state policies and experience — are as well.
Policymakers and regulators will need useful information that will help them gauge their opportunities and make informed decisions, given the variety of viewpoints they will hear. Recognizing this, RAP has been working on a series of related resources to help move the conversation forward.
For state legislators and policymakers, earlier this month we unveiled our Roadmap for Electric Transportation. For regulators determining how best to plan for, accommodate and promote this transition, there’s our brand-new paper, Taking First Steps: Insights for State Utility Commissions Preparing for Electric Transportation. And in the coming weeks we’ll add to that list with a policy memo that considers EVs in the context of performance-based regulation.
The Roadmap for Electric Transportation provides legislative options that build on the best practices developed in current state legislation and look to the future for improvements to existing laws. Each of the kit’s legislative options serves as a starting point for legislators and interested stakeholders, and is designed to be adapted to the specific needs of state legal systems and administrative contexts.
Taking First Steps: Insights for State Utility Commissions Preparing for Electric Transportation starts with the proposition that — while no one state agency has clear responsibility for it, utility commissions are taking their first steps toward determining how best to prepare for electric transportation. They are meeting with sister state agencies to learn what the others are thinking about these changes, and learning from stakeholders to educate themselves about the various issues that will need to be addressed to promote beneficial outcomes and avoid unnecessary challenges. These include managing EV load, rate design, EV charging, the importance of programs and key elements of EV pilots. The paper looks at state efforts and identifies insights and lessons learned by utility commissions across the country that are taking these first steps.
Finally, the forthcoming Metrics to Measure the Effectiveness of Electric Vehicle Grid Integration considers the transition from internal combustion engine vehicles to EVs as a unique opportunity for the utility sector. EVs offer a new flexible load that can be integrated into the electric system in a way that produces benefits for both drivers and grid operators seeking to lower costs and emissions. Poorly managed integration, however, won’t deliver those benefits. The memo outlines critical questions that regulators should ask when determining how best to integrate EVs. It then explores how performance-based regulation — the development of high-level goals, performance criteria, and clear and measurable metrics to assess whether goals and criteria are met — can be used to promote effective EV integration.
If the EV transition is going to be successful — especially amid a time of public health and economic recovery — policymakers, regulators, and other stakeholders are going to have to understand each other’s viewpoints and maintain an open dialogue. We hope that these resources will contribute to that dialogue.