X. Support State Actions
EV-supportive state policies help drive adoption and are necessary if the Southeast is to catch up to the EV deployment levels of leading regions. There are several actions that states can take to support and enable local government electric transportation goals. Likewise, local governments can lean into advocating for state policies that will support goals.
A. Leading by Example
States can establish targets for share of EV adoption and deployment of EVSE. These targets act as market signals for increased demand for auto manufacturers.
B. State Policies
1. Policies to Electrify State Agency Fleet
States can establish minimum EV targets for state agency fleet purchases. Fleets move the market forward faster because of scale. Incorporating more EV models onto the state purchasing list will help local governments get new models that are needed to meet their fleet needs.
NC EO 246 calls for deep decarbonization targets and boosting electric transportation. The EO calls for a decarbonization pathways analysis across all sectors, the development of a clean transportation plan for light, medium- and heavy-duty EVs, and the inclusion of the social cost of greenhouse gas emissions in decision making across state agencies. Importantly, the EO is centered on equity and justice including the creation of equity leads in each cabinet agency and a focus on workforce diversity, health equity, and meaningful community participation.
2. Policies to Electrify Bus Fleets (School and Transit)
States can develop transit and school bus EV transition plans. They can help facilitate necessary steps for electric fueling including effective rate design and allowing cost recovery for utility connection. They can also incentivize purchase of buses and charging infrastructure by coordinating federal and state funding.
3. Policies for Consumer Adoption/Direct Sales and Service
Some states have enacted laws to do away with the traditional dealership model to support consumer choice, decrease vehicle costs to consumers, and support new manufacturers and the EV market in general. Across the Southeast, laws governing direct-to-consumer sales vary. Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina all allow for direct EV sales and service. North Carolina and Georgia only allow limited direct sales and service only for Tesla, with North Carolina permitting Tesla to operate six sales and service centers and Georgia two.
4. Uniform Signage Requirements
Uniform signage requirements make a consistent design across the state and would make compliance easier for local governments to enforce. Additionally, states could allow private businesses to inform the public of EVSE availability on state-owned signage similar to gas station signage now.
5. Encourage Utility Investment
The Southeast is significantly underrepresented in utility funding for transportation electrification per capita, representing 18 percent of the U.S. population but approximately one percent of utility investment to date. States that have higher levels of utility investment tend to have stronger EV markets. These investments include “make-ready” infrastructure (which includes service connection upgrades and new supply infrastructure to bring power to the charging equipment), utility-owned and operated charging infrastructure, charging station rebates, incentives to promote equity and access, workplace charging, and fleet electrification including school and transit buses.
Atlas Public Policy and SACE: "Transportation Electrification in Florida"
Atlas Public Policy and SACE: "Transportation Electrification in North Carolina"
National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners: Electric Vehicles: Key Trends, Issues, and Considerations for State Regulators
6. Charging Infrastructure Investment (Funding and Financing)
States can promote additional infrastructure by developing EVSE funding and grant programs. They can leverage federal funds and identify alternative state funding and financing programs.
7. Adopt ZEV Standards
Under section 177 of the Clean Air Act, California was empowered to adopt stronger air quality standards. Now, eleven other states have chosen to adopt these more stringent standards in lieu of federal standards. The ZEV standards component requires that automakers supply a certain percentage of ZEVs to that state or purchase credits from other automakers to meet the state requirements. Thus, California and other “ZEV program states” claim 60 percent of all U.S. passenger EV sales while making up only 31 percent of the population. This action would help local governments gain access to additional models currently available.
8. Join the Transportation and Climate Initiative
The Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI) is a bi-partisan regional collaboration that seeks to improve transportation, develop the clean energy economy, and reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector. The collaboration began in the Northeast and now engages states along the eastern seaboard from North Carolina to Vermont. At the center of TCI is a market-driven, carbon cap-and-invest strategy. The “cap” in cap-and-invest puts a price on carbon and leverages market dynamics to achieve guaranteed emissions reductions at a relatively low cost for consumers and businesses. Joining TCI could generate upwards of hundreds of millions of dollars to fund transportation climate initiatives.
9. Adopt the Advanced Clean Truck Rule
The Advanced Clean Truck (ACT) regulation will ensure more zero-emission trucks are available for sale by requiring truck manufacturers to produce an increasing percentage of zero-emission vehicles over time. Medium and heavy-duty trucks make up only around 10% of the nation’s vehicles, however, they are responsible for 28% of carbon emissions from the transportation sector, 45% of on-road NOx emissions, and 57% of direct fine particulate. These vehicles are a climate problem and negatively impact public health, especially for frontline communities impacted first and worst by air pollution.
C. Best Practice Standards
1. Interoperability and Open Standards
States can require public EVSE to be open to all users regardless of membership to a specific charging network and should maintain an open-source data protocol for projects receiving public funding.
2. Consumer Incentives
State-administered tax credits or rebates or utility-administered rebates to reduce the upfront cost of EVs and/or charging have been utilized to incentivize EV purchases. Vehicle rebates have been implemented in 15 states and charging rebates are active in 29. None of the southern states have a state-administered tax credit at this time. Georgia had a $5,000 tax credit between 2013 and 2015. EV sales in Georgia fell 65% throughout 2015 when the program ended.
Atlas Public Policy and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy: "Transportation Electrification in the Southeast"