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POLICIES FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO ACCELERATE ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Electric vehicles can save money for our communities, promote public health, and protect our coasts by offsetting the need for new offshore drilling.  This toolkit is a catalog of local policies that can be enacted to facilitate the transition to electric vehicles in an effective, sustainable, and equitable way. It is a comprehensive approach with specific recommendations based on local electric vehicle (EV) initiatives we have compiled of effective policies from around the country with links to real-world examples. The objective is not to suggest that every city must implement all of these policy recommendations. We encourage public officials to use this catalog as a menu of options to best fit the needs of their communities as they develop their action plans.

TOOLKIT CONTENTS

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Trip Planning

Local governments can create transportation electrification plans to provide an overall framework and roadmap for community-wide transportation electrification. The plan can incorporate different elements from each of the categories below--and more--and will serve to guide actions in the months to come. By leveraging federal and state funds for electrification, the costs to local governments can be reduced. Additionally, your plan should integrate with the local utility’s plan. Hopefully, your local utility already has a plan and this partnership could inform and improve each other’s plan.

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Local leaders can establish goals to electrify their fleets which save taxpayer dollars while reducing pollution and providing healthier outcomes for their citizens and the environment. The positive economics of transitioning to electric fleets is a business reality that many municipal leaders are getting ahead of. Further savings may be achieved by leveraging funds available for fleet procurement from the Volkswagen diesel emissions settlement fund.

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Electric driving requires a paradigm shift in how we fuel our vehicles as fueling can take place at home, in the community or along our highways. People’s perceived lack of visible charging stations is cited as one of the top barriers that contribute toward car buyers not purchasing electric vehicles. Thus, designing and planning charging systems will require addressing unique needs and removing barriers that local leaders are in a position to help with. Local governments can install and own EV charging equipment and adopt policies to encourage private investment in charging infrastructure. The cost of installing chargers may be reduced by leveraging funds available for charging equipment from the Volkswagen diesel emissions settlement fund.

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Most American drivers are not aware of the cost, health and environmental benefits of driving electric. Educational opportunities can be offered to both staff and citizens to increase understanding of electric vehicles, charging, and the cost savings to taxpayers. Examples include having EV information on your website, hosting outreach activities such as “ride and drives” at which staff and citizens can ride or drive in electric vehicles, and outreach to local business fleet departments to offer information about both light and heavy-duty electric vehicle options.

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EV incentives like financial incentives and driver perks can have a significant impact on total EV sales particularly among lower and middle-income consumers.

Electrifying a municipal public transportation system is a no-regret solution that provides significant cost, health, and environmental benefits. According to the US Department of Transportation, every zero emission bus is able to eliminate 1,690 tons of CO2 over its lifespan. Additionally, electric buses reduce fuel and maintenance costs by $300,000-350,000 over the lifespan of each bus.

Frontline communities typically experience disproportionately negative impacts from pollution caused by the transportation sector for several reasons including but not limited to proximity to major roadways. These emissions increase the risks of asthma, cancer, and other pollution-related illnesses. Frontline communities also experience stronger barriers to EV due to higher upfront costs and lack of access to charging infrastructure. These burdens and barriers warrant a targeted approach to increasing electric transportation equity and access among members of frontline communities.

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Local utilities are essential partners - after all, they provide the electricity. Because of their role, engaging with your local utilities should be a first step. Local utilities can be partners in increasing EV adoption rates. They can offer EV friendly rates where it is cheaper to charge an EV at low-use times of the day and can install charging infrastructure through pilot programs. Additionally, municipalities can partner with local utilities to create education and outreach events and programs. Cities and counties that have municipal utilities have a unique opportunity to work closely with their electricity provider to develop pilot programs and provide strategic direction.