March 13, 2012 -- A coalition including automakers, electric utilities, environmental groups, and state officials outlined joint recommendations today to accelerate the adoption of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) nationwide.
The PEV Dialogue Group, convened last year by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), presented its recommendations at a Washington, D.C. event featuring remarks by group members from General Motors, Southern California Edison, the state of Michigan, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The group’s report, An Action Plan to Integrate Plug-in Electric Vehicles with the U.S. Electrical Grid, provides a roadmap for coordinated public and private sector action at state and local levels to ensure that PEV owners can conveniently plug in their cars without overtaxing the grid. It recommends steps to ensure compatible regulatory approaches nationwide, balance public and private investments in charging infrastructure, and better inform consumers about PEVs.
“With plug-in electrics, we now have a mass-produced alternative to the internal combustion engine,” said C2ES president Eileen Claussen. “This is a major opportunity to tackle both energy security and climate change, and to put American industries and workers out front on a truly transformative technology. But for PEVs to succeed, we need all the right parties working together. That’s what this plan is all about.”
Nearly 18,000 PEVs were sold in the United States last year; over the next year or two, all of the major automakers plan to have models on the road. Some PEVs like the Nissan Leaf rely entirely on battery power, while others like the Chevy Volt have small backup engines to extend their driving range.
Broad deployment of PEVs, which use little or no gasoline, can significantly reduce U.S. reliance on imported oil and curb harmful tailpipe emissions. If accompanied by the gradual decarbonization of U.S. electricity, PEVs can also significantly reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. But growth of the PEV market faces major challenges, including new infrastructure letting owners plug in at home and on the road while ensuring the reliability of the grid.
The PEV Dialogue Group’s Action Plan includes recommendations to:
- Encourage state public utility commissions and other policymakers to establish a consistent regulatory framework nationwide to harmonize technical standards; streamline the installation of household and commercial charging stations; and use electricity rate structures to promote charging at off-peak hours.
- Assist local policymakers and stakeholders in assessing local needs, developing tailored strategies, and optimizing public and private investment in charging infrastructure.
- Provide consumers with reliable information on the costs and benefits of PEVs and the choices among PEV technologies.
“Instead of policies that increase our addiction to oil, we need to provide Americans more transportation choices,” said Roland Hwang, transportation director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Putting millions of electric vehicles on the road will cut drivers’ fuel bills, help the auto industry, keep billions of dollars in the U.S. economy, and curb emissions of dangerous air pollutants. By working together across the political spectrum to enact this Action Plan, we can create a vibrant market for electric cars, restore U.S manufacturing leadership and create thousands of jobs.”
“The U.S. electrical grid is a national energy security asset and has the excess capacity, off-peak to support millions of electric vehicles right now,” said Edward Kjaer, director of PEV readiness, at Southern California Edison, a major electric utility. “With the PEV Action Plan, C2ES has spearheaded an important effort that will help us all use this critical domestic resource for transportation and begin to reduce this nation's dependence on imported oil.'
“GM is glad to work with groups such as C2ES that are working to advance the adoption of electric vehicles through real-world best practices and stakeholder education,” said Michael Robinson, vice president of sustainability and global regulatory affairs at GM.
“It has been a pleasure to work with the other members of the PEV Dialogue Group and identify policies that will help seamlessly integrate plug-in electric vehicles with our electrical grid,” said Orjiakor Isiogu, a member of the Michigan Public Service Commission. “I look forward to continuing my work within the group and helping it properly balance the needs of electricity customers and the opportunity presented by PEVs.”
C2ES will work with the PEV Dialogue Group and others to promote implementation of the Action Plan. Over the coming months, C2ES is working with the Washington State Department of Transportation to advise transportation officials in seven states on steps to accelerate PEV adoption, and with the U.S. Department of Energy to support DOE-funded Clean Cities Coalitions working in dozens of communities across the country to develop local PEV deployment plans.
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent non-profit, non-partisan organization promoting strong policy and action to address the twin challenges of energy and climate change. Launched in November 2011, C2ES is the successor to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, long recognized in the United States and abroad as an influential and pragmatic voice on climate issues. C2ES is led by Eileen Claussen, who previously led the Pew Center and is the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.