Electric Vehicles

Lessons Learned from the Clean Cities Community EV Readiness Projects

A C2ES report, "A Guide to the Lessons Learned from the Clean Cities Community Electric Vehicle Readiness Projects," summarizes the lessons learned from 16 government, educational and nonprofit groups that received $8.5 million in U.S. Department of Energy grants to advance the deployment of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). Participants in projects across 24 states and the District of Columbia spent 18 months assessing the barriers to and opportunities for PEV deployment in their regions and preparing and executing readiness plans. See the map below for information about each of the 16 projects.

The C2ES report, A Guide to the Lessons Learned from the Clean Cities Community Electric Vehicle Readiness Projects,” highlights some of the key findings, including:

  • Public outreach about PEVs raises awareness, dispels misconceptions, and supports prudent policy. More information will help consumers make choices and help businesses and governments make decisions about charging station deployment.
  • Incentives help overcome the roadblocks to early PEV adoption. Income tax credits and other incentives such as high-occupancy vehicle lane access have spurred PEV purchases
  • Access to charging is vital at multi-family residences and workplaces. These are the two highest priority charging locations after single-family homes, but obstacles include low early demand, lack of familiarity with PEVs, and questions about recovering costs.
  • Local governments play a key role in charging station deployment. Both public and private charging infrastructure can be governed by local permitting, inspection, building codes, and zoning, parking, and signage rules.
  • Electric utilities should plan for PEV adoption. Utilities will need to ensure the grid is responsive to increased demand from PEVs. They can also explore how PEVs can help manage the grid using emerging technologies.

C2ES collaborated with the Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program and Argonne National Laboratory on the report to help communities across the country learn from the actions grant recipients took to identify and overcome barriers to PEV deployment.

The report is designed to be useful to state and local decision-makers, regardless of their level of experience with PEV technology. It provides an accessible primer to the key issues and a roadmap to more detailed information that cities and states can use directly.

Other Project Activities

Webinar for Clean Cities Coalitions on the PEV Dialogue Group Action Plan

Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS26) Meeting for Clean Cities

National Governors Association Workshop on PEVs

Action Plan Webinar for Clean Cities Coalitions

One of the target audiences for the PEV Dialogue Group’s Action Plan is undoubtedly the national network of Clean Cities Coalitions, a key group of alternative fuel supporters affiliated with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program. Clean Cities Coalitions engage in on-the-ground activity to facilitate the deployment of alternative fuel vehicles and fueling infrastructure. The Action Plan helps bring these coalitions up to speed on the steps necessary to smooth the introduction of PEVs in their area.

The first of two webinars took place on April 17, 2012 in partnership with U.S. DOE’s Clean Cities and the Rocky Mountain Institute, both members of the PEV Dialogue Group. Click here to download that slide set. The second webinar took place on June 20, 2012. Click here for the second slide set. 

Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS26) Meeting for Clean Cities

May 7, 2012, in Los Angeles, California

The 2012 Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS26) brought together many of the leaders in the plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) industry. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program and Argonne National Laboratory invited grant recipients and industry experts to a workshop facilitated by C2ES. Participants discussed challenges and shared best practices regarding efforts to prepare areas for PEVs and charging infrastructure deployment.

Download the handout provided to participants, a presentation by Ted Bohn from Argonne National Lab, and the summary report from the workshop session.

National Governors Association Workshop on PEVs

July 10-11, 2012, in Washington, DC

C2ES helped the National Governors Association, Argonne National Laboratory, and the U.S. Department of Energy Clean Cities put on a PEV workshop. The workshop brought together 17 states and other stakeholders, including several PEV Dialogue Group members, to discuss issues related to technology, policy, and consumer outreach for PEVs.

Further information on the workshop including all presentations is available on the NGA website.

Who Can Own/Operate a Charging Station


This map summarizes state activities to address issues related to owning and operating electric vehicle charging stations.

One of the key regulatory challenges to electric vehicle-grid integration is defining which entities can own and operate vehicle charging stations. States regulate retail electricity sales to all utility customers, so two key questions arise:

  • Under what conditions should charging station providers (also called electric vehicle service providers) be regulated as electric utilities?
  • Under what conditions can electric utilities own and operate a charging station?

Without regulatory changes, many states would be forced to regulate electric vehicle service providers as utilities because they sell electricity directly to consumers. These extensive regulations  would make many new business models unfeasible and discourage growth in charging infrastructure deployment. The PEV Dialogue Group recommends that a charging station provider that is only selling electricity as a transportation service should not be regulated as a utility.

Another major issue is under what conditions electric utilities can own and operate public charging stations, and whether there should be a different set of rules in low-demand markets. If electric utilities use ratepayer funds to deploy charging stations, they would have an unfair competitive advantage against other electric vehicle service providers. On the other hand, utilities could help provide charging infrastructure to underserved areas. The PEV Dialogue Group recommends that states allow utilities to own and operate public charging stations through unregulated affiliates. The Group also recommends that states allow utilities to own and operate charging stations for internal use, for demonstration purposes, and in areas that the private market would not support otherwise.

Related Reports

  • See the PEV Action Plan for more information on regulations related to owning and operating charging stations.

Related Maps

Last updated: October 6, 2014

PEV Integration with Electrical Grid


Over time, many electric utilities have upgraded the electricity generation and distribution infrastructure to support increased electric load for air conditioning and other high-power loads. Electric vehicles could be the next major electric load for utilities to accommodate if deployment continues to expand nationwide. Integrating electric vehicles with the grid is a challenge for electric utilities. But utilities could also take advantage of the vehicles’ batteries for grid management.

To facilitate electric vehicle-grid integration, states have enacted policies to help utilities plan for the increased load, harness the potential grid benefits of electric vehicles, and ensure all customers can access home charging.

This map identifies which states have enabled notification to electric utilities of electric vehicle sales, have updated residential building codes to accommodate electric vehicle charging, and are piloting new technologies that enable electric vehicles to provide grid ancillary services (also known as vehicle-to-grid).

The PEV Dialogue Group recommends that states continue to protect the reliability of the electrical grid, minimize the cost of electric vehicle-grid integration, and treat electric vehicles similarly to other incremental electric loads.

Related Reports

  • See the PEV Action Plan for background on policies and actions to integrate electric vehicles with the electrical grid, including vehicle-to-grid technology.

Related Maps

Last updated: February 11, 2014

PEV Electricity Pricing by Time-Of-Use (TOU)


A large amount of surplus electricity-generating capacity is generally available during off-peak hours. To moderate costly fluctuations in power consumption and production throughout the day, utilities could provide a price incentive to encourage electric vehicle owners to charge during off-peak periods. Doing so would lower the cost of integrating the vehicles with the grid and could even lower prices if the average cost of delivering electricity is lowered for all ratepayers. 

One way to encourage off-peak charging is through time-differentiated, or time-of-use (TOU), electricity rates that offer cheaper electricity overnight when demand is low. Many electric utilities offer TOU rates to manage existing grid assets more efficiently.

The PEV Dialogue Group recommends electric utilities offer attractive electricity rates for electric vehicles and encourage off-peak charging in order to accelerate electric vehicle adoption and lower vehicle-grid integration costs.

This map displays states with electric utilities that have adopted TOU rates specifically targeted at electric vehicles. Much of the data comes from the Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuel Data Center.

For information about TOU and other electricity rates for most electric utilities, visit the OpenEI website, a joint initiative between the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and many others.

Related Reports

  • See the PEV Action Plan for background on the benefits of TOU rates for electric vehicles and the electrical grid.

Related Maps

Last updated: February 11, 2014

PEV-Specific Measures for Transportation Infrastructure Funding


The gap between available transportation funding and what’s needed has been growing nationwide. (See C2ES’s brief on federal transportation reauthorization program for more information.)

States must balance measures to reduce transportation’s effects on the environment, through for example, programs such as electric vehicle incentives, with the need to provide transportation infrastructure funding. Most of this funding comes from user fees including motor fuels taxes. Most of this funding comes from user fees including motor fuels taxes.

Available evidence suggests electric vehicles will have a very small effect on transportation funding in the near term. As a result, the PEV Dialogue Group recommends that states enact revenue collection plans before electric vehicle adoption noticeably affects revenues, when technically feasible, and without stunting the growth of the electric vehicle market.

This map documents activity by states to recover transportation infrastructure revenue from electric vehicles. Much of the data comes from the Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuel Data Center.

Related Reports

  • See the PEV Action Tool for more information about activities by state transportation departments to promote electric vehicles and fund transportation infrastructure.

Related

Last updated: February 11, 2014

Fostering Electric Vehicles

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Cities and states are building the expertise needed to encourage mass market adoption of electric vehicles. A new C2ES report summarizes the lessons learned from 16 groups that received Energy Department grants to advance the deployment of plug-in electric vehicles in their communities. The report is also a roadmap for accessing the research, toolkits, and other resources in the 16 readiness plans.
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Guide to the Lessons Learned from the Clean Cities Community Electric Vehicle Readiness Projects


Guide to the Lessons Learned from the Clean Cities Community Electric Vehicle Readiness Projects

February 2014

by Matt Frades

Download the full paper (PDF)

This report for the U.S. Department of Energy summarizes the lessons learned from 16 government, educational and nonprofit groups that received grants to advance the deployment of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). Participants in projects across 24 states and the District of Columbia assessed the barriers to and opportunities for PEV deployment in their regions and prepared and executed readiness plans. The report is designed to be an accessible primer to the key issues in PEV deployment and a roadmap to the detailed research, toolkits, and sample language for local policies contained in the readiness plans.

 

 

Matt Frades
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Save fuel and look good doing it

A quick glance around this week’s Washington Auto Show might make you wonder if you’ve stepped into the past, with large trucks, SUVs, and sports cars getting all the attention. But look under the hood and you can see the auto industry’s more climate-friendly future.

The cars and trucks of 2014 are lighter, more aerodynamic, and powered by increasingly efficient engines. A key impetus for these improvements is tougher federal fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards. The auto show provides evidence that the industry is working to meet these ambitious standards, and that we can significantly reduce emissions without compromising consumer choice.

One way to improve fuel economy is to make the vehicle lighter. That’s exactly what Ford Motor Company did to the best-selling vehicle in the United States: the F-150. All 2015 Ford F-150s will have an aluminum body and truck bed – shedding 700 pounds while still being able to tow and haul more than the previous generation. That could boost its gas mileage from 20 mpg on the highway for the 2014 model to 30 mpg.

Automakers have increasingly substituted strong, lightweight aluminum for steel in hoods, wheels and other components. The F-150 and Tesla’s aluminum-body Model S show they’re going beyond that.

Another way to increase gas mileage is to improve an engine’s ability to convert fuel (potential energy) to work (kinetic energy). General Motors is making the Corvette Sting Ray for the first time 1976, and the new version is beautiful and efficient. The 2015 Sting Ray is the quickest, most powerful, and most efficient Corvette ever made. The 7-speed V-8 Sting Ray gets up to 29 mpg on the highway. That’s about twice the fuel economy of the ’67 Sting Ray my dad drove when I was a kid.

Federal Surface Transportation Reauthorization

A Primer on Federal Surface Transportation Reauthorization and the Highway Trust Fund

January 2014

by Nick Nigro and Cindy Burbank

Download the full paper (PDF)

For the first 50 years of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), user fees were sufficient to fund the federal portion of building and maintaining the nation’s transportation system. Limiting fees to actual users of services is seen as a more equitable approach than paying for transportation out of the general fund. For the past decade, however, user fee income to the HTF has not kept pace with federal authorization levels, and Congress has not taken action to increase the level of user fees or decrease federal authorizations to bring the fund’s obligations and revenues into balance.

 

Cynthia J. Burbank
Nick Nigro
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'60 Minutes' story on clean tech omits climate change

A recent "60 Minutes" story highlighted the demise of a few high-profile clean-tech companies that received federal funding. The story neglected to report why clean technology is vital to the future of our economy and environment in the first place, and therefore why it makes sense for the government to promote the development of wind and solar energy, electric vehicles, and other clean tech. Simply put, the goal is to transform our economy from one based on fossil fuels that emit heat-trapping gases to one based on clean energy that won't contribute to global climate change.

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