Electric Vehicles and Community Choice Energy
Electric Vehicles (EVs) are proliferating rapidly. Over 500,000 EVs are already on US roadways, with over half of those in California. EV ownership is projected to increase exponentially as battery prices fall, bringing affordable, long-range EVs into the mainstream.
Volvo and other car makers have already stated their intention to phase out gas power in all new models starting as early as 2019, and entire nations including Germany and the UK have announced plans to ban all combustion cars as early as 2030.
EVs and Community Choice
If you are an elected leader or local government official considering establishing a Community Choice agency, or are on the governing board or staff of an emerging agency, consider “baking in” some early programs to support EVs. If you are on the governing board or staff of an operational agency that has not yet initiated any EV programs, keep reading!
There are many reasons, some obvious and some subtle, as to why Community Choice energy and Electric Vehicles are a great match.
- EVs use electricity, and Community Choice Agencies (CCAs) sell electricity. Therefore the more EVs are on the road and charging locally, the more power the CCA will sell, strengthening its fiscal sustainability.
- In most communities, transportation emissions are the #1 source of pollution and global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. If the mission of a CCA includes reducing emissions, then tackling transportation is essential. EVs are the fastest and least disruptive way to get the gasoline and diesel out of our transportation sector.
- The quickest path to reducing fossil fuel combustion is to electrify everything from home heating to transportation, and use renewable energy for electricity generation. As the grid gets cleaner, which it is doing at a steady pace, all electrical devices, including cars, get cleaner. By contrast, no matter how fuel-efficient a combustion vehicle is, it will continue to emit a consistent amount of GHGs per mile traveled until it is replaced, usually 10 to 20 years in the future.
- EVs offer a potential solution to the growing abundance of solar power available in mid-day. This power bulge, referred to as the “duck curve,” which also includes a steep rise in demand as the sun goes down and folks switch on power in the early evening, is a consequence of increased reliance on variable sources of energy (OK, solar) that cannot be easily dispatched when needed. Special EV rates and programs to incentivize daytime and/or workplace charging are on the way. Right now, smart chargers are available that can be programmed to begin charging only after that evening ramp is over and there is once again plenty of power from night-time wind to charge up the EVs. Eventually, electric vehicles, together with stationary battery storage, can serve as massive battery banks that can absorb excess energy when it is available, and release it back to the grid when needed. This technology is referred to as vehicle to grid (V2G) and in California, Vehicle-Grid Integration (VGI).
What are Community Choice Agencies already doing to accelerate EV Adoption?
The first four California CCAs, MCE Clean Energy, Sonoma Clean Power, Lancaster Choice Energy, and Peninsula Clean Energy, all have policies, programs, and projects designed to support the acceleration of EV adoption. Many of these programs and projects are collaborations with other agencies, the private sector, and community-based organizations. Several of the other 19 operational agencies have plans for EVs in the works.
What can a CCA do to boost EV adoption?
CCAs can offer their customers information on EV models, the benefits of ownership, and the rebates available from state and federal sources. This informational outreach can take the form of websites, brochures, or more active educational efforts such as sponsoring and/or participating in EV ride-and-drive events.
Some CCAs sponsor public charging infrastructure in order to further incentivize EV ownership in their community. MCE Clean Energy is an example.
- Rebates and incentives
The most innovative CCAs are investing directly in EV adoption. Sonoma Clean Power, for example, has invested over $3 million in programs that offer customers, including qualified low income customers, additional rebates and discounts, as well as free level 2 smart chargers that offer the capacity for future V2G efforts.
What about historically disadvantaged communities?
EVs should not be seen as a luxury available only to the wealthy. It is well-established that the lifetime cost of owning an EV is lower than the cost of owning a conventional gas-powered car. However, barriers exist to access or ownership that CCAs can help break through. These barriers include the initial purchase price or lease cost, and the fact that many low-income customers live in multi-family dwellings where installing a home charging station is not feasible.
CCAs can offer additional subsidies for qualified low-income customers, as they are doing in their Drive EverGreen program. About one-third of the incentive funds in that program are earmarked for low-income customers. CCAs can also work with multifamily residential property-owners to making EV charging available, and/or develop programs to make workplace charging more common.
Lastly, adoption of EVs does not necessarily mean ownership. Car-sharing programs and services are on the rise and EV car sharing may be a way for more folks, including low-income, to be able to switch to EVs. There is nothing stopping CCAs from collaborating on such a program.
There is tremendous synergy between CCAs and EVs. For economic, social, and environmental reasons CCAs can and should invest time and resources in promoting EV adoption and charging infrastructure. Some CCAs have already begun to make the necessary investments, and the future of EVs is promising, nowhere more so than in communities served by CCAs.
Center for Climate Protection’s EV White Paper: Beyond Combustion: Electric vehicle trends, goals and recommendations for Sonoma County – Download it for free! Also visit the Center’s Clean Transportation Program Page for the latest in EV news, campaigns, opportunities, and more.
CCA EV Programs & Info
MCE Clean Energy’s EV info page
SCP’s Drive EV Page
Lancaster Choice Energy Public Charging Stations
Peninsula Clean Energy – Drive Forward Electric program
Silicon Valley Clean Energy – Clean Transportation Info Page
CALSTART – A member-supported organization of more than 175 firms, fleets and agencies worldwide dedicated to supporting a growing high-tech, clean transportation industry that cleans the air, creates jobs, cuts imported oil and reduces global warming emissions.
Coltura – Coltura’s vision is that no new gasoline-powered vehicles are sold after 2030, and the United States is gasoline-free by 2040. To achieve this vision, Coltura is building the no-gasoline movement to change policy and culture around gasoline use.
Electric Auto Association – Find your local chapter!
Green Car Reports – News, updates, reviews, and information about electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
National Drive Electric Week (An Electric Auto Association event)
PlugShare – PlugShare is your guide to electric vehicle charging wherever you go.
Veloz – Veloz is a nonprofit organization made up of a high-powered, diverse board and members from key sector companies, agencies and nonprofits. With unparalleled stakeholder leadership, Veloz is uniquely able to accelerate the shift to electric cars through public-private collaboration, public engagement and policy education innovation.
Your local car dealer: Walk in and tell them you want to see and test-drive their electric models. If they don’t have any, ask them… why not?