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Pennsylvania prods utility investment in charging as part of EV growth plan

Pennsylvania prods utility investment in charging as part of EV growth plan

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Dive Brief:

  • Expanded use of electric vehicles would help Pennsylvania reap $2.8 billion in benefits from lower greenhouse gas emissions and generate a host of other positives, according to a new report from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
  • The DEP unveiled a plan on Wednesday to boost EV adoption in the Keystone State, in part by encouraging utilities to invest in transportation electrification, establishing statewide sales goals, and expanding an alternative fuel investment grants program for municipalities, businesses and organizations.
  • Pennsylvania has only about 15,000 EVs registered, a tiny fraction of the roughly 8 million vehicles in the state. But the DEP estimates an aggressive approach to boosting adoption could mean about 31% penetration by 2033.

Dive Insight:

State regulators have generally recognized that a mix of utility-owned and third-party stations will be necessary for a full rollout of charging infrastructure, but their approaches have differed. Pennsylvania’s roadmap would encourage utility ownership of charging stations, but also makes clear that a robust marketplace is important.

In order to increase access to public and residential EV infrastructure, one strategy would be “enabling and encouraging utilities to invest in EV infrastructure to benefit drivers and the grid, while continuing to enable participation in the [electric vehicle supply equipment] market by third-party charging providers.”

Pennsylvania sees electric vehicles as a key path towards meeting the state’s energy goals, which include reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050, relative to 2005. The state ranked 24th for EV sales in 2017, but the DEP’s plan envisions a rapid growth in adoption across the next decade.

Under a scenario with aggressive EV policies and improvements in technologies, the DEP sees almost 2.9 million EVs on Pennsylvania roads by 2033 — ​about 31% of the total light duty fleet.

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

“Interest in electric vehicles is increasing, but until now there’s been no statewide plan to foster a cohesive approach,” DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said in a statement. “We developed research-based strategies for government and private planning and policy decisions to help increase the opportunities and benefits of electric vehicles across the state.”

The plan includes 13 recommendations, including seven strategies that would be rolled out in the next two years. Another half dozen strategies focus on longer-term approaches.

In the near-term, DEP’s proposals include:

  • development of policy or legislation to encourage utility investment in transportation electrification;
  • establishing statewide electric vehicle sales goals;
  • expanding the agency’s Alternative Fuel Investment Grants program for municipalities, businesses and organizations;
  • increased investment in charging stations; and
  • creation of education programs to support fleet purchases and raise awareness of EVs among consumers and car dealerships.

The Pennsylvania Electric Vehicle Roadmap was developed by a coalition of public and private partners called Drive Electric PA. Led by the DEP, the group analyzed barriers to electric vehicle use and developed the plan.

“Coalition members are now collaborating on potential ways to put the strategies in place,” the DEP said in its announcement.

Longer-term strategies in the report include exploring development of “innovative financing” for EVs and charging equipment and “EV-ready building codes.”

Source: utilitydive
Anand Gupta Editor - EQ Int'l Media Network

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