Good afternoon. Thank you for joining us. I’m Eileen Claussen, President of C2ES, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. Some of you may have known us until recently as the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.
Judging from recent headlines, and from what you hear on the campaign trail, the biggest energy challenge facing America today is the rising price of a gallon of gas. And indeed, for many Americans, this is a genuine concern. But the reality – as I suspect you all know – is that there is virtually nothing that anyone at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue can do in the near term to bring prices down. Oil moves in a global market, and as long as oil remains a mainstay of our economy, we will be subject to its gyrations.
So the only real answer is to end our dependence on oil -- which of course is easier said than done. Even with our best possible efforts, weaning ourselves from oil will take not years, but decades -- which is all the more reason to get started on it right now.
We’re here today to talk about one part of the solution: plug-in electric vehicles. With PEVs, we now have a mass-produced alternative to the internal combustion engine. Depending on the model, PEVs either use no oil at all, or use it very sparingly. And, as they insulate their owners from rising gas prices, PEVs can deliver a whole range of other benefits as well.
By reducing our reliance on imported oil, they enhance our energy security. When they’re running on their batteries – which is all or most of the time -- they produce no tailpipe emissions, and that reduce local air pollution. If we can make real headway in decarbonizing our electricity supplies, PEVs can play a very significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And they present a genuine opportunity to put American industries and workers out front on a truly transformative technology.
So there are lots of reasons to like PEVs. And thanks in part to some help from Washington – including tax incentives enacted under the Bush administration, and investments under President Obama’s stimulus package – these cars are now in the showrooms and on the road. In their first year on the market, PEVs sold 50 percent better than hybrids did when they were first introduced. Nearly 10 companies already have models on the road, and over the next year or two, all of the major automakers will be offering them.
As GM can tell you, the PEV pathway is not without its bumps. But the same was certainly true for the internal combustion engine – and for so many other game-changing technologies that we now take for granted. For PEVs to take off – for them to truly deliver on their promise – we need to ramp up the effort. From the federal government, we need more support on the R&D side, in particular. But the real nuts-and-bolts challenges faced by PEVs are well outside Washington – and for the most part, so are the solutions. So that is where we at C2ES have chosen to focus our efforts.
It’s fairly obvious, I suppose, that if plug-in electric vehicles are to succeed, they need someplace to plug in. And creating that infrastructure – connecting plug-ins to the grid – involves a lot of different parties. It’s not just the consumers and carmakers. You need the electric utilities, which means you also need the state public utility commissions. You need the companies that make batteries and charging stations. You need people thinking about this from an environmental perspective. And you need them all working together.
That’s where we thought we could help. One year ago we convened the PEV Dialogue Group to bring together all of these interests. We said, let’s come up with a plan we can all agree on. And today, we are thrilled to be sharing with you the product of those efforts – An Action Plan to Integrate Plug-in Electric Vehicles with the U.S. Electrical Grid. A little later in the program, Judi Greenwald will give you a more detailed overview of the plan. In a nutshell, the plan provides a roadmap for coordinated action by the public and private sectors at the state and local level to ensure that PEV owners have a place to plug in – that they can conveniently charge their cars at home and on the road, without in any way compromising the reliability of the grid. It recommends ways to harmonize regulatory approaches across the country; balance public and private investments in charging infrastructure; and help consumers understand the benefits and choices offered by PEVs.
As I said earlier, we see this as just one part of the solution. On the transportation front, we need to keep pushing ahead with stronger fuel economy standards, and we need to be advancing other alternative fuels and technologies. At C2ES, for instance, we’re also looking at the options presented by natural gas.
But at a time of economic struggle, fiscal crisis and political gridlock, I believe this effort is an encouraging example of how we can and must make progress. Much as I would like to see comprehensive solutions to our climate and energy challenges, those don’t appear to be on the immediate horizon. But if we come at these issues one by one, look for opportunities where interests converge, and are open to compromise, we can arrive at practical solutions benefiting our economy and our environment.
This same approach delivered another success two weeks ago, when we announced recommendations from a coalition of industry, state, labor and environmental leaders to boost domestic oil production while reducing CO2 emissions. Another win-win. The opportunities are there, if only we seize them.
I want to thank all the members of PEV Dialogue Group for the hard work and dedication that brought us to this moment.
It’s been over a year since we assembled the Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) Dialogue to work on the major market barriers to PEVs nationwide. Yesterday, we released the first product of this diverse and important group – An Action Plan to Integrate Plug-in Electric Vehicles with the U.S. Electric Grid.
We’ve talked in the past about how policies like fuel economy standards and technologies like PEVs, fuel cells, and advanced internal combustion engines are the key to reducing oil consumption and the impact our travel has on our environment. PEVs could play an important role in that effort, but only if they’re given a fair shot.
|C2ES's Nick Nigro interviews PEV Dialogue members, Watson Collins of Northeast Utilities and Zoe Lipman of National Wildlife Federation, about the PEV Action Plan. Listen to the podcast now.|
An Action Plan to Integrate Plug-in Electric Vehicles with the U.S. Electrical Grid
Americans purchased almost 18,000 plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) in 2011, a strong first year for these transformative vehicles. Recently, private industry and government have invested valuable resources in developing, promoting, and deploying PEVs. These vehicles offer an uncommon opportunity to address energy security, air quality, climate change, and economic growth. However, market growth is uncertain due to policy, economic, and technical challenges, and other advanced vehicle technology may prove more popular with consumers over time. There are steps that can be taken now, however, to meet some of these challenges and ease adoption of PEVs nationwide. In An Action Plan to Integrate Plug-in Electric Vehicles with the U.S. Electrical Grid, the PEV Dialogue Group lays out some of these critical steps needed to enable a robust national PEV market.
With PEVs’ important opportunities and challenges in mind, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) convened the PEV Dialogue Group—a unique, diverse set of stakeholders composed of leaders from the public and private sectors along with non-governmental organizations. The Group developed an Action Plan to fill gaps in the existing work on PEVs using a consensus process that aimed to optimize public and private investments and avoided favoring certain PEV technology.
|C2ES convened the PEV Dialogue Group in early 2011 to create an Action Plan that identifies many of the steps that would be necessary to integrate PEVs with the electrical grid nationwide.|
The Group believes PEVs could be an important part of the vehicle market in the United States and worldwide if they are given a fair chance to compete with conventional vehicles. The Group identified a series of market-based actions for all stakeholders that foster innovation, minimize public cost, educate consumers, and maintain electrical grid reliability.
The Group began by identifying key challenges and objectives that existing PEV efforts have not addressed adequately, such as integrating PEVs with the electrical grid. The Group did not focus on reducing vehicle upfront cost directly, since federal and state tax credits are already in place. The Group then held a series of face-to-face meetings to hash out the details of the Action Plan over the course of one year. The plan represents a unique and valuable contribution to the national conversation on PEVs by identifying practical steps that policymakers, regulators, local and state officials, private market participants, and others should consider as PEVs become more broadly available in the coming years.
The plan recommends specific actions in four categories summarized below:
- Create a Consistent Regulatory Framework Nationwide: Regulations by state public utility commissions that are compatible across the country can help foster innovation and increase the PEV value proposition while also maintaining the reliability of the electrical grid.
- Optimize Public and Private Investments in Charging Infrastructure: There are opportunities to accelerate private investment, encouraging innovative business models while also acknowledging that PEVs warrant some public investment in charging infrastructure.
- Facilitate PEV Rollout: Connecting stakeholders to provide a satisfactory PEV and electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) purchase and home EVSE installation is a necessary step to seal the deal once a consumer commits to purchasing a PEV.
- Educate Consumers: Explaining the PEV value proposition and bridging the consumer information gap about PEV technology can be accomplished through a combination of cutting-edge online resources and traditional touch-and-feel experiences.
The Action Plan represents Phase I of a larger initiative to pave the way for PEV adoption nationwide by helping level the playing field. Phase II aims to work with stakeholders “on the ground” to go about implementing the Action Plan with leaders across the country.
The table below provides an overview of the Action Plan, which is fleshed out in great detail in the body of the report. Next to each action component are a number of individual actions or the principles for the individual actions. Many activities for these actions can occur concurrently. Businesses, electric utilities, government, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will all play a role in each action component.
Create a Consistent Regulatory Framework Nationwide
Optimize Public & Private Investments of Charging Infrastructure Regarding Location, Amount, & Type
Facilitate PEV Rollout
Create a Consistent Regulatory Framework Nationwide
- Residential & Commercial EVSE Installation: Stakeholders should jointly create a competitive and innovative market for residential and commercial PEV charging services. Decisions by Public Utility Commissions (PUCs), local government, and PEV service providers regarding household EVSE installation should streamline the installation process. Regulations should reflect the local characteristics of markets, potential PEV users, PEV service providers, and electric utilities.
- Residential & Commercial Electricity Rate Structure: Stakeholders should work together to determine electricity rate structures that maintain the reliability of the electrical grid and reward households for charging PEVs at off-peak hours. Rate structures should offer households choices, including options that better reflect the cost of electricity generation.
- Transportation Infrastructure Finance: Stakeholders should work together to determine how PEV owners can pay their fair share of transportation infrastructure maintenance. Permanent or temporary methods should be implemented in a way that does not affect PEV market growth before PEVs have a noticeable impact on tax revenue for a state.
- Vehicle Charging Standards: Voluntary standards bodies should work together, with the assistance of stakeholders, to develop vehicle charging standards and best practices related to the vehicle charging connector, PEV interconnection and communication with the electrical grid, and EVSE installation.
- Protecting Consumer Privacy: Stakeholders should ensure that individual identity is impossible to glean from data collected from EVSE and vehicles released to NGOs, government, and other researchers while also maintaining the usefulness of these data for researchers.
Optimize Public and Private Investments in Charging Infrastructure
- Assess PEV Feasibility: Stakeholders should cooperatively develop a method to assess the suitability of deploying PEVs in a geographic area and share this information with area governments.
- Estimate Charging Equipment and Infrastructure Needs: Stakeholders should collaborate to estimate charging equipment and infrastructure needs in a geographic area based on the expected PEVs in an area, travel patterns, and area geography.
- Estimate the Extent of Public Investment in EVSE: Stakeholders should work together to estimate the amount of public investment in an area that is appropriate to overcome existing market deficiencies.
Facilitate PEV Rollout
Expedite EVSE Home Installation: Stakeholders should design an expedited EVSE home installation process. A locality can speed up permitting and inspection processes to reduce overall installation time. Localities can also promote training, best practices as identified by early-action cities, and guidelines for electrical contractors. PUCs and electric utilities should provide assistance when creating this process to ensure regulatory compliance. Steps should also be taken to encourage utility notification about EVSE installation.
- Remove Market Barriers for EVSE Service Providers: Stakeholders should cooperatively remove local and state market barriers for PEV service providers. Legal and regulatory hurdles that prevent a PEV service provider from competing in an area could exist. PEV service providers should identify local and state barriers that prevent them from introducing their product in a market. They should work together with automakers, PUCs, and local and state government to clear those barriers and facilitate new market introduction. Local and state government should encourage the training of inspectors and electrical contractors on all aspects of EVSE installation. Face-to-face meetings between PEV service provider representatives and government officials can begin this process.
- Create Tools to Help Consumers Understand PEV Value Proposition: The value proposition PEVs provide includes tangible operational cost savings such as lower fuel and maintenance costs throughout the vehicle’s lifetime. In the short term, however, consumers may find non-financial benefits more valuable, like the driving experience or the statement driving a PEV conveys. Since consumers attain most of their information about vehicles online, stakeholders should cooperate on unbiased web tools that accurately communicate the PEV value proposition.
- Close the PEV Technology Information Gap: The focus of an effort to close the technology information gap should be to increase PEV publicity, develop web tools on PEV technology, and improve stakeholder outreach. Stakeholders should develop engaging and sophisticated web tools to educate consumers about the difference between PEVs, other alternative vehicles, and conventional vehicles. While consumers obtain most of their information about vehicles online, there is no replacing test drives and other valuable hands-on experiences.
Consumers will ultimately decide whether PEVs will succeed or not in the vehicle marketplace. The inaugural year indicates there is strong consumer interest, but the number of early adopters and the ability of PEVs to reach the mainstream consumer are still uncertain. The benefits PEVs provide warrant action by relevant stakeholders to level the playing field in order to provide a fair chance for these vehicles to compete with conventional vehicles. Implementing the steps laid out in the PEV Dialogue Group’s Action Plan will enable a more viable transition to a nationwide PEV market.
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions convened the PEV Dialogue Group. The original group assembled the Action Plan collaboratively. Each group member participated by providing valuable input that was instrumental in shaping the Action Plan. The Plan’s recommendations reflect the input from the group as a whole, not necessarily those of individual organizations.
Since publishing the Action Plan, the group has expanded to include other partners that are active in the electric vehicle market. The group continues their collaboration in through the PEV Dialogue Initiative, focusing on implementation of the Action Plan.
- A123 Systems
- Argonne National Laboratory
- Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers
- Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
- City of Raleigh
- U.S. Department of Energy
- Edison Electric Institute (EEI)
- Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA)
- Electrification Coalition
- Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)
- General Electric
- General Motors
- Georgetown Climate Center
- Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission*
- Johnson Controls Inc.
- Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments
- Michigan Public Service Commission*
- North Carolina Department of Transportation
- Northeast Utilities System
- Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
- NRG Energy
- PJM Interconnection
- Rockefeller Brothers Fund
- Rocky Mountain Institute
- Southern California Edison
- U.S. Department of Transportation
- Union of Concerned Scientists
- University of Delaware
- Washington State Department of Transportation
- World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
A lot has changed in the two years since I made my first visit to the Washington Auto Show. Back then, gas prices averaged $2.68 per gallon and the Nissan LEAF looked like a “car of the future” compared to the other vehicles on the showroom floor. Now, prices at the pump are 25 percent higher, averaging $3.50 per gallon in 2011, and fuel costs are eating up the largest share of the average American’s income in over 30 years. Meanwhile, the auto industry is adapting their product line to their new environment and cooperating more closely with regulators. The 2012 auto show includes many more alternative vehicles like the all-electric Ford Focus (see picture below) and the Prius V, a 42 mile per gallon hybrid station wagon.
Letter to the Editor
The Washington Post
Published December 14, 2011
The Dec. 8 front-page article “Obama’s green-car push struggles to pass ‘go’?” missed the mark with respect to the emerging electric vehicle industry. The plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) market is less than a year old. Americans have already purchased 50 percent more PEVs than they bought hybrids in the first year those cars were introduced a decade ago. Furthermore, the amount of private capital that has gone into the PEV market dwarfs public investments. These private companies did not invest hard-earned capital just because President Obama set a national goal. Focusing on public investment ignores the much larger efforts to develop the PEV market, undertaken by thousands of engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs and business leaders.
Experienced companies and start-ups in the PEV market are still trying to figure out their positions. Battery technology is evolving rapidly, and, as a result, costs are coming down. There will be ebbs and flows as consumers decide what kind of PEVs they want to purchase. Demand will drive the winners and losers here.
But the government can help jump-start the market, as it did with the 2009 Recovery Act. And the recently announced fuel economy standards should help, too. It’s simply far too early to make a call about where we’ll end up.
Judi Greenwald, Washington
The writer is vice president for technology and innovation at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.
Click here to visit The Washington Post site.
This is Part 2 of a series on the new EPA-DOT vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) and fuel economy standards. Part 1 took a first look on the goals of the standards.
These days, most cars can go from 0 to 60 mph in a pretty short time – but can the nation’s car fleet go from 27.3 to 49.5 mpg in 15 years flat?
As we mentioned in Part I, a 49.5 mpg CAFE standard (or 54.5 mpg by the EPA’s calculation) is the new vehicle standard for 2025. Considering that the current CAFE level is 27.3 mpg, closing the 20 mpg gap will need some pretty quick acceleration, efficiency-wise.
Though the new standard may seem daunting, the key takeaway is that passenger vehicles will use many technologies we already know about and still deliver the freedom of mobility and convenience found in today’s cars. In fact, most of the fleet will still be powered by diesel and gasoline but with under-the-hood technological improvements that improve the bang for each buck of gas.
This post is the first of a two-part series on the new joint EPA-NHTSA vehicle standards. It will give an overview of the new standards. The second part dives deeper into details on how the new standards will be met.
As the Pew Center for Global Climate Change has transformed into the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), the transportation sector is undergoing some major transformations itself.
The eagerly anticipated model years 2017-2025 vehicle standards for greenhouse gases and fuel economy have been officially proposed and inked into the best of formal Federal prose – an extensively detailed 893-page behemoth of a report to be exact. The new vehicle standards would nearly double the efficiency of the nation’s passenger vehicle fleet. And based on its contents, these proposed standards appear to be a tremendous victory for most, creating benefits for the economy, national security, public health, vehicle buyers, and the global climate.
It’s been a long time coming. Together with last year’s rulemakings on 2012-2016 light duty standards and 2014-2018 heavy duty standards, vehicle standards haven’t seen an overhaul of this magnitude since, well, the creation of such standards in the 1970s.
Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) are a transformative technology – offering a way to reduce America’s reliance on imported oil, combat rising gas prices, improve local air quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Nearly all automakers already have electric vechcles on the road, but to realize the full potential of electric vehciles, a broad range of stakeholders must work together.
The PEV Dialogue Group convened by C2ES brings together automakers, electric utilities, policymakers, environmental groups and others to develop consensus approaches to accelerate electric vehicle deployment nationwide.