NW Energy Coalition issue paper weighs benefits and opportunities for vehicle electrification

Publication follows passage of membership resolution on Coalition involvement in the EV arena

Transportation is one of the most polluting, energy-inefficient sectors of our economy, and the Pacific Northwest is uniquely positioned to leverage its clean electricity resources to change that. State and local policy should foster a greater role for the region’s electric utilities in electrifying transportation, not only for passenger vehicles but also for buses, short-haul vans and trucks, and non-road industrial equipment such as forklifts and shore power.

A just-released NW Energy Coalition research paper, Building “good load” to reduce carbon emissions: Getting Northwest utilities more involved in widespread transportation electrification, draws from many recent national studies to detail the potential benefits.They include:

• Sharply reduced greenhouse gas emissions
• Improved air quality
• Greater energy efficiency
• Lower and more stable fueling costs
• Greater energy security
• State and regional economic gains
• Better utilization of the electricity grid and potential downward pressure on rates
• Better integration of variable renewable energy sources with load management and other grid services

Coalition senior policy associate JJ McCoy wrote the paper to inform and reflect a policy resolution passed at last December’s Coalition membership meeting. It summarizes much of the available evidence for public and ratepayer benefits from transportation electrification. It also details recent legislative developments in utility-transportation policy enacted in California, Vermont and Washington state to provide potential roadmaps for similar efforts.

Among other policies, the paper recommends:

• Local, state, and federal programs including charging infrastructure in multi-family and workplace settings, and public charging for those without garages.
• Establishing clear legal authority for Northwest utilities to participate in transportation electrification.
• Utility investment in the transportation sector for home, apartment, condominium, workplace, industrial, public and highway fast-charge settings.
• Ensuring low-income access and equity so billpayer benefits are shared broadly.
• Fair charges and rates for transportation uses that reflect utility system costs but present no unnecessary hurdles or burdens on users.
• Guarantees that transportation electrification programs will be additional to existing investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy under current law.

The full paper, the executive summary and the Coalition resolution on electrification of transportation are now available. For more information, contact McCoy at jj@nwenergy.org.