Federal EV developments – July 2016

Over the past 8 years:

  • The number of plug-in electric vehicle models increased from 1 to more than 20.
  • EV battery costs decreased 70%.
  • The # of EV charging stations grew 40x over — from <500 in 2008 to >16,000 today.

Yesterday (July 21, 2016) the Obama administration and a White House press release highlighted what the administration intends to do to sustain or increase that growth, including:

  • $4.5 billion in US Energy Department loan guarantees available for the support of a commercial-scale electric vehicle charging station buildout
  • Publishing Guiding Principles to Promote Electric Vehicles and Charging Infrastructure with 50 industry partners (from auto manufacturers like Tesla, BMW, and GM; to charging companies like ChargePoint, Greenlots, and EVGo; to utilities like Florida Power and Light Company, Con Edison, and Duke Energy; to a variety of other related players
  • Hackathon hosted by the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) “to discover insights and develop new solutions for electric vehicle charging.”  “Hackathons are events that bring together coders, data scientists, topic experts, and interested members of the public to discover insights and develop new solutions.”
  • Launching the FAST Act process, which targets to “identify zero emission and alternative fuel corridors, including for electric vehicle charging across the country,” as well as pull together “a 2020 vision for a national network of electric vehicle fast charging stations that will help determine where along the corridors it makes the most sense to locate the fast charging infrastructure”
  • Announcing “a call for state, county, and municipal governments to partner with the federal government to procure electric vehicle fleets at a discount”
  • Publishing “a guide to federal funding, financing, and technical assistance for electric vehicles and charging stations”
  • Getting 35 new businesses, non-profits, universities, and utilities to sign on to DOE’s Workplace Charging Challenge, which means that they are “committing to provide electric vehicle charging access for their workforce.”

Of course, more could be done, but without Congressional support for bigger incentives, this is a pretty big step forward in support of a transition to EVs.

The Obama administration intends that a national network of electric vehicle (EV) fast-charging stations be completed by 2020 — thereby making “coast to coast, nationwide zero emissions travel” a much simpler affair for owners.

Building upon DOT’s planned designation of alternative fuel corridors under the FAST Act, DOE and DOT, in cooperation with the DOE National Laboratories, DOT Volpe Center, and other government and industry stakeholders, will commence efforts in fiscal year 2017 to develop criteria that will help identify specific locations for siting fast charging infrastructure adjacent to the DOT-designated national and community corridors. The proposed effort will address four key areas important to evaluating the potential for a national network for fast charging including: (1) siting criteria for charging locations; (2) charging and utility infrastructure needs and cost assessment; (3) impacts of electric demand charges to consumers and utilities; and (4) potential longer-term innovations including evolution up to 350 kilowatt (kW) fast charging. The partnership will address these questions to provide the necessary information for the basis of a dialogue with stakeholders to help define public-private partnerships, funding, and financing models for implementing a national fast charging network. Along those lines, the DOE and DOT will be convening stakeholders this fall to identify critical needs for a national network of fast charging stations. 

The announcement also notes that, “The Office of Federal Sustainability is inviting State, county and municipal government fleets to join forces with Federal agencies to maximize their collective buying power, and aggregate their EV and charging infrastructure purchases.

Going on: “In doing so, governments at all levels can lower their procurement costs, expand technology availability, and increase automotive manufacturers’ demand certainty. The Office of Federal Sustainability will partner with government and agency fleet purchasers to coordinate and aggregate the purchasing of EV fleets, with distinct acquisition procurement strategies to be determined. Alone, the federal government plans to purchase more than 500 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) or EVs in fiscal year 2017.”

Given that one of the primary reasons cited by those surveyed for not purchasing an EV is lack of charging infrastructure, the initiative will presumably lead to a faster rate of EV adoption.  As Sierra Club Transportation Representative Andrew Linhardt was quoted as saying: “Encouraging the transition to electric vehicles is an all-around win for our climate, our public health, and our economy. Coupled with renewable power, electric vehicles offer the promise of 100% clean transportation. The Obama administration’s efforts to increase accessibility to electric vehicle charging at home, work and on the road will help speed our transition to a 21st century clean transportation system and help break Big Oil’s monopoly on American transit.”