AFV Finance

Action on VW settlement heating up as summer approaches

Summer is around the corner, bringing barbeques, warm weather, and road trips. U.S. residents may benefit from Volkswagen (VW) funding for those last two items (and Nissan bravely experimented with the barbeque): reducing air pollutants that cause harmful health effects in warm weather through a Mitigation Trust, and extending electric vehicles’ (EVs) driving range through a series of charging infrastructure investments. Both programs are set to take effect shortly, and cities and businesses may benefit from early action.

As a quick reminder, VW is putting $4.7 billion in two separate funds for mitigating nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions and investing in zero-emission vehicles as part of a settlement for installing devices designed to bypass U.S. auto emissions tests. (The two funds are shown below and described in greater detail in this blog post.)

Mitigation Trust to Reduce NOx emissions from heavy-duty vehicles

The Mitigation Trust will allocate funding to each state to spend on reducing the NOx emissions that were created by the altered VW vehicles. The funding will be disbursed within the state by one lead agency that must be approved by an appointed trustee. The trustee, investment firm Wilmington Trust, was selected in March. Once all parties confirm Wilmington Trust, which could happen any day, the Trust Effective Date will be established. The Trust Effective Date is essentially the “starter’s pistol” that will set the process of distributing Mitigation Trust funds to states in motion. The general timeline for applying for and receiving funds is shown below, though several deadlines are flexible and may proceed more quickly than the maximum amount of time allocated.

 

Cities and businesses should contact and work actively with the lead agencies in their states to identify and promote opportunities to replace older diesel engines and vehicles. Several states have already identified their lead agencies or principal contacts and are beginning to design plans for how the available funding will be spent. Though funding can be spent over 15 years, as much as two-thirds can be spent within the first two years. Therefore, it is in the best interest of cities or businesses to engage with state agencies early.

ZEV Investment to Expand public EV charging

VW’s initial ZEV Investment is also ready to be put into action through a $200 million California Investment Plan and a $300 million National Investment Plan that covers all other states. VW submitted separate investment plans that cover the next 30 months earlier this year to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The EPA approved the National Investment Plan, which allocates $40 million to lower-powered community charging in 11 major cities and $190 million to higher-powered fast charging along selected highways across the nation. Community charging will be focused in New York City, Washington, DC, Chicago, Portland (OR), Boston, Seattle, Philadelphia, Denver, Houston, Miami, and Raleigh. Estimated highway charging installations are displayed in Table 3 of the National Investment Plan (page 22).

Though the cities and corridors have been chosen, the sites and vendors have not. The process of selecting sites and vendors for the bulk of charging stations is scheduled for the second and third quarters of 2017. Cities identified for investments in community charging or nearby corridor charging can work with VW’s subsidiary, Electrify America, to identify optimal locations that may promote retail growth or adoption by low-income communities in multi-unit dwellings by hosting charging stations. Businesses may also benefit from increased traffic to use public charging stations (as C2ES has covered in a report on EV charging station business models) or from the opportunity to work with Electrify America to install charging stations.

CARB has not yet approved the California Investment Plan out of concerns for social equity and EV charging market competitiveness, sending a letter to Electrify America requesting that a supplemental plan reflect greater investments in low-income communities. Once CARB approves a plan, California cities and businesses should also consider opportunities to work with Electrify America to optimally site charging stations during the first 30-month round of investments. During the next round of investments, slated to begin in late 2019, proposals to Electrify America may be more successful if they incorporate CARB’s concerns and demonstrate air-quality benefits to low-income communities or a need to fill regional EV charging gaps.

With action on both VW settlements’ funding programs taking shape, cities and businesses should be prepared to identify opportunities to reduce NOx emissions and promote EV adoption .

 

Positive steps on the road to more EV charging

Last year, I spoke to a Slate reporter who asked why the Obama Administration had not invested more in electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. Last night, the administration took steps to reduce transportation emissions by making charging easier and more affordable and by leading the way through a unified, national effort.

The administration announced several initiatives to promote EV adoption. Notably, $4.5 billion in funding has been designated to support guaranteed loans for the installation of new EV charging stations. The administration also plans to develop a guide for federal funding, financial, and technical assistance for EVs and EV charging infrastructure, as well as invest in research and partnerships that will expand EVs’ consumer appeal.

More funding

Range anxiety, or a simple lack of available charging options, continues to impede the growth of the EV market. The administration announced $4.5 billion in guaranteed loans through the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Loan Program Office to install EV charging stations. Expanding federal loans to include EV charging stations may help remove a major impediment to investing public charging by reducing the cost of capital.

A 2015 C2ES report recommended government loans in the short term to help stimulate the growth of public charging infrastructure and create a sustainable charging network. The report found that charging service providers face difficulties earning a return on investments for public charging projects, but could develop profitable business models with government financial support.

Federal standards

The administration is proposing to develop federal standards to assist with developing networks of DC fast charging stations, which can charge an EV in 30 minutes or less. The U.S. Departments of Energy and Transportation will produce a guide to federal funding programs, financing incentives, and technical assistance for EVs and charging stations. The intervention of the federal government may help create some more consistency between charging networks with varying standards and processes, and the guide may establish an authoritative and inclusive resource for all stakeholders to turn to for a better understanding of EVs.

The proposal leverages existing programs, such as the congressionally approved 2015 FAST Act designating travel corridors for alternative fueling stations, to help expand DC fast charging networks.

This figure illustrates the business challenge facing charging service providers.

This figure illustrates the business challenge facing charging service providers. Over the expected life of the charging equipment, the direct revenue for the provision of charging services is less than the cost of owning and operating the charging station.

Consumer appeal

The White House’s announcement also includes new funding for research to cut EV charging time down to 10 minutes, which would appeal to consumers used to fueling gasoline-powered cars. Consumers may find charging easier with the inclusion of new companies in DOE’s workplace charging program and utility commitments to deploying new EV infrastructure.

There may be some criticism about why the federal government is investing this funding in EVs, and not other clean transportation technologies such as natural gas or hydrogen. EVs currently hit the sweet spot of offering greater carbon reduction potential than natural gas vehicles, with the capacity to get even cleaner as the electric grid decarbonizes, while attracting greater support from automakers and consumers than hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Twenty-six EV models were sold in the United States last month, with automakers pledging many more models in the coming year.

Now that the transportation sector has become the largest U.S. greenhouse gas-producing sector, these initiatives will help bring clean transportation to consumers by making EV adoption easier and more enjoyable.

Using data to evaluate the equity of EV policies

The state of New York has passed a budget that includes a new EV purchase incentive that will provide up to $2,000 for eligible buyers of an all-electric vehicle, a plug-in hybrid EV, or a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. Meanwhile in Minnesota, legislators have been considering an EV purchase incentive.

The CEO of the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota criticized EV purchase incentives as “a reverse Robin Hood scheme,” without the green tights, that takes money from the many (taxpayers) and subsidizes the purchases of the few (elites who buy EVs). How accurate is the assertion that the wealthy benefit the most from purchase incentives?

A free EV data tool from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority can provide some insight. Developed with support from C2ES, EValuateNY gives users access to wide-ranging data sources from New York State’s EV market and allows easy comparisons of the factors that affect EV sales. You can find more about the tool in a previous blog post.

Our initial assessment, examining the period before the purchase incentive program has been implemented, shows that the EV market extends well beyond New York’s wealthiest counties.

Using the U.S. Census Bureau’s data on median household income by county, we established three income brackets to compare wealth between counties. Next, we broke down EV registrations by county and income bracket from the beginning of the EV market (2010) to the most recent data in EValuateNY (2014). The results show that counties with high median incomes account for slightly less than half the state’s total EV registrations.

Figure 1: Distribution of EVs by Income Bracket and County (2010-2014)

Therefore, EVs are not solely purchased in high-income counties, though households with high incomes are found in each county. However, EV registrations in three high-income counties (Suffolk, Nassau, and Westchester) account for more than 43 percent of the state’s total registrations, but only about 22 percent of the population. Clearly, these high-income counties have a higher rate of EV registrations. To dive deeper, we used EValuateNY to plot the rate of EV purchases per 1,000 vehicle registrations by county and income level, shown in Figure 2. Using a rate of EV purchases helps eliminate other factors that may affect the data, such as population or the rate of vehicle ownership. We also added the total number of EV registrations as the size of the bubble representing each county.

Figure 2: Household Income with Rate of EV Purchases and EV Registrations by Income Bracket and County (2010-2014)

This chart indicates that income may have a positive effect on the rate of EV registrations. High-income counties’ rate of EV purchases per 1,000 vehicles is higher than the range of low-income counties. With some notable exceptions, it’s also higher than the range of medium-income counties.

EValuateNY helped establish two findings[i] about the effect of income in New York State’s EV market:

1.      Counties with low and medium median incomes make up more than half of the market; and

2.      Residents of high-income counties may be more likely to purchase an EV than residents of low- and medium-income counties.

So, would New York’s forthcoming purchase incentive rob from the poor and give to the rich? This could not be entirely true, since more than half of all registered EVs are in low- and middle-income counties, and residents in these counties would arguably benefit more from $2,000 than residents from high-income communities. However, there may be some validity to the argument that on an individual basis, residents of high-income counties would benefit more from the purchase incentive because they may be more likely to buy an EV.

From a policy perspective, the purchase incentive is designed to promote EV deployment, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and invest in the state’s economy. The program is not designed with any specific social equity goals, but New York legislators could address any potential wealth disparity by instituting an income cap, as California recently did.

The value of purchase incentives in spurring the EV market should not be lost in the discussion of income, though. A recent report by the Stockholm Environment Institute highlights the need to reduce EV price premiums as a means of encouraging consumer adoption. The effect of purchase incentives on state EV markets has been demonstrated over the past year after Georgia eliminated its $5,000 all-electric vehicle tax credit, and EV sales fell sharply.

New York State’s purchase incentive is a helpful tool for putting more electric vehicles on the roads. All New Yorkers, not only the wealthy, benefit from the reduced greenhouse gas emissions from having EVs using some of the least carbon-intensive electricity in the nation.



[i] The strength of any correlation is difficult to establish, as EValuateNY’s user interfaces are designed to provide high-level insights. A regression analysis that provides confidence intervals may be required to better understand the significance of income on counties’ rate of EV uptake. Users may conduct advanced analyses by directly accessing EValuateNY’s databases.

 

Natural Gas Vehicles

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This guide addresses questions that private investors and state and local agencies may have about key considerations and strategies for deploying NGVs in public and private fleets.
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Electric Vehicle Guide

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Answers to questions that private investors and state and local agencies, such as state energy offices, may have in deciding whether and to what extent they should invest in publicly available charging infrastructure.
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Fleet operators could save money with natural gas vehicles

Press Release
November 12, 2015
Contact: Marty Niland, nilandm@c2es.org, 703-516-0600

Fleet operators could save money with natural gas vehicles

WASHINGTON – Public and private fleet operators could save money by switching to natural gas vehicles using the business model that energy service companies (ESCOs) apply to energy efficiency projects, according to a guide released today by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES).

Although switching to natural gas vehicles (NGVs) can lower costs, many fleet managers have not converted their fleets. Strategic Planning to Enable ESCOs to Accelerate NGV Fleet Deployment: A Guide for Businesses and Policymakers helps investors and state and local policymakers make decisions about deploying natural gas vehicles in public and private fleets, which are among the most initially promising areas.

The findings are part of a two-year initiative, in partnership with the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) and with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program, to develop innovative finance mechanisms aimed at accelerating the deployment of alternative fuel vehicles and fueling infrastructure.

The guide analyzes the cost-saving potential for switching tractor-trailer truck, school bus, and light-duty vehicle fleets. Among the key findings:

  • Incorporating natural gas vehicles into fleets can significantly reduce petroleum use and harmful emissions, especially with tractor-trailer fleets.
  • The major factors affecting the financial performance of natural gas vehicle fleets are the fleet’s vehicle technology and vehicle usage patterns.
  • Natural gas vehicle projects for tractor-trailer fleets result in net cost savings under nearly every fleet size and travel scenario considered in the guide’s analysis.
  • Using natural gas to fuel school bus fleets also results in net cost savings for fleets whose vehicles travel about 20,000 miles per year.
  • An energy service provider can help with the transition to natural gas by familiarizing fleet managers with new technology, identifying a project’s greatest savings potential, reducing financial risk, and helping maximize financial payoff.

“Switching from diesel to natural gas is a net cost-saver for fleets in many cases. But even the most cost-conscious fleet manager can hesitate to switch to a new technology, especially in a time of low oil prices,” said Nick Nigro, a C2ES senior advisor and lead author of the report. “The fleet market can learn a lot from ESCOs and how they’ve deployed energy efficiency technologies by offering valuable services and training in exchange for a share of the cost savings.”

“Many of NASEO’s members, the 56 State and Territory Energy Offices, are eager for solutions and strategies supporting the use of domestic and clean transportation fuels,” added David Terry, Executive Director of NASEO. “The Strategic Planning Guide is an important addition to states’ toolboxes in their efforts to reduce reliance on imported oil, improve air quality, and stimulate economic growth.”

Read the report.

Learn more about the initiative.

About C2ES

The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization promoting strong policy and action to address our climate and energy challenges. Learn more at www.c2es.org.

 

 

New business models plus public support can boost investment in EV charging

More than 300,000 electric vehicles (EVs) are already on the road in the United States, but to ramp up adoption of this technology, consumers will need more access to charging beyond their home or office.

C2ES has identified business models that, combined with near-term public support, could boost investment in publicly available EV charging and expand the environmental benefits of EVs.

The business models are detailed in a new C2ES publication, Strategic Planning to Implement Publicly Available EV Charging Stations: A Guide for Businesses and Policymakers. The guide draws on research from a two-year initiative in partnership with the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) to explore innovative financing mechanisms aimed at accelerating the deployment of alternative fuel vehicles and fueling infrastructure.

This figure illustrates the business challenge facing charging service providers presently. Over the expected life of the charging equipment, the direct revenue for the provision of charging services is less than the cost of owning and operating the charging station.

Strategic Planning to Implement Publicly Available EV Charging Stations: A Guide for Businesses and Policymakers

Strategic Planning to Implement Publicly Available EV Charging Stations: A Guide for Businesses and Policymakers

November 2015

By Nick Nigro, Dan Welch and Janet Peace
 

Download the Report (PDF)

This guide answers questions that private investors and state and local agencies, such as state energy offices, may have in deciding whether and to what extent they should invest in publicly available charging infrastructure.

 

Dan Welch
Janet Peace
Nick Nigro
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Washington state commits to supporting a growing EV market

The power and transportation sectors are the top two sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. So for a state like Washington that already relies on low-emission power, transportation is the key opportunity to reduce emissions.

That’s why two concrete steps by the state to support its growing electric vehicle (EV) market in the near term are significant. As part of a transportation package signed by Governor Inslee on July 15, Senate Bill 5987 will:

1. Extend the state’s EV sales tax exemption to 2019, opening up it up to plug-in hybrids that can travel at least 30 miles on electricity while capping eligibility to cars that cost under $35,000.

2. Create a unique EV infrastructure bank to fund innovative charging station projects.

Although both steps were less than the broader climate action the governor sought, it’s notable that the state has given a clear market signal that it wants more EVs on its roads, and that it is encouraging public-private partnerships to fund EV charging infrastructure.

These actions are grounded in broader research C2ES completed this spring for the Washington State Legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee. The study analyzed a variety of roles that the public sector can play to help expand private investment in EV charging infrastructure.

With demand for public charging still low and charging infrastructure costs high, it’s critical to capture the indirect revenue streams associated with charging services.

Public push can spur private investment in EV charging

This map shows that large segments of many major roadways in Washington state do not have any publicly available DC fast charging. Our report demonstrates how the private sector can be the predominant source of funding for publicly available commercial charging stations within approximately five years.

For electric vehicles (EVs) to hit the mainstream and make a meaningful contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, they’ll need a robust public charging infrastructure that lets drivers go where they take gasoline-powered cars now. Our recent work for Washington state identified some promising ways to get the private sector to fund more of that infrastructure in the near term, and fund all of it eventually.

The C2ES study was commissioned by the Washington State Legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee and guided by an advisory panel of state legislators,  EV experts, and other stakeholders. The findings, which could be implemented in the state through a bipartisan House bill, demonstrate that, with continued public support and accelerated EV market growth in the near term, the private sector could predominantly fund commercial charging stations in about five years.

A frequent question about funding infrastructure for EVs is, “Why not just follow the gas station model?” Under that model, an investor would pay to install and operate equipment and make a profit by selling the electricity to charge an EV.

Putting aside the fact that gas stations make most of their money at the convenience store or repair shop and not at the pump, this business model doesn’t work for EV charging for three reasons. First, the cost of owning and installing EV charging equipment is high. Second, the market for EVs is small in most places and the demand for charging is uncertain. And third, EV drivers are not willing to pay a high price

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