Big Coalition Releases Vision for Electrified Future

The Transportation Electrification Accord captures a shared vision for a clean transportation future.

Source: Gratisography

A diverse group of more than 50 businesses, clean energy advocates, environmentalists, and consumer groups today released a new national vision for a clean, modern, and electrified future of mobility with a groundbreaking Transportation Electrification Accord.

The purpose of the Accord is to provide guidance on how America’s utilities can successfully help overcome barriers to transportation electrification and encourage their customers to go electric. Given that transportation is the leading source of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, any comprehensive approach to meaningfully reduce economy-wide emissions must clean up – and electrify – the transportation sector.

The Accord outlines how to accelerate electric cars, trucks, and buses to benefit all electric utility customers and transportation users while supporting the evolution of a cleaner electricity grid and stimulating innovation and competition for U.S. companies. The Accord’s guiding principles set us on the path to reducing our dependence on petroleum fuels and slashing greenhouse gas emissions by moving to electricity – which is increasingly generated from renewable, pollution-free resources.

Who has signed the Accord?

The Accord highlights the shared vision of more than 50 – and counting – organizations and businesses, including NRDC, General Motors, Siemens, Consumers Union, and Advanced Energy Economy. This diversity reflects the broad support that transportation electrification enjoys from automakers, bus manufacturers, electric utilities, EV charging companies, labor, business associations, consumer advocates, public health organizations, and environmental groups – and it’s what makes the Accord so novel. To accelerate the transition to zero-emission transportation, these stakeholders (and, at times, strange bedfellows) need to develop solutions to overcome remaining barriers to transportation electrification. Their commitment to such a collaborative approach is enshrined in the Accord.

What is in the Accord?

The Accord recognizes that electric transportation, in all its forms, can provide economic, grid, and environmental benefits, such as operations and maintenance cost savings from cheaper fuel, increasing the efficient use of the grid in a way that lowers electricity costs for all customers, and substantially reducing air pollutant and carbon emissions from moving goods and people. It also acknowledges that the deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure and educational initiatives that raise awareness of electric transportation options are critical to getting more people behind the wheel of an EV. The same is true for fleet managers of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles like delivery trucks or transit buses.

For that reason, the Accord states it is in the public interest to allow utilities to install charging stations and raise awareness for EVs to accelerate electrification of the transportation sector and maximize benefits to all customers. This deployment, in partnership with EV charging companies, should:

  • Foster innovation in EV charging services by providing new avenues for competition;
  • Encourage the use of new technologies that enable EVs to help keep the grid running smoothly; for example, technologies that encourage EV charging when renewable energy is abundant on the electric transmission system; and
  • Create a charging experience that is open and accessible for all, meaning that you don’t need a wallet full of plastic payment cards from every charging station company to charge on the way from Point A to Point B.

In short, utility investments that support these principles and beget utility customer benefits should be approved in service of driving transportation electrification forward.

Why was it created?

The Accord is designed to encourage utilities, which are critical to the effort, to help drive vehicle electrification forward. The substantial, $738 million programs recently approved by the California Public Utilities Commission are a case in point; they not only provide charging stations necessary to support widespread EV adoption in key segments like home and highway corridors, but also create opportunities to incentivize off-peak EV charging that increases fuel cost savings and avoids stress on the grid.

In addition, the Accord can educate policymakers and regulators about the advantages of transportation electrification and demonstrate how utilities can play a productive role in scaling EV growth. With various utility regulatory proceedings on transportation electrification underway in states like New York and Maryland, the Accord arrives at an opportune time.

The Transportation Electrification Accord takes the first step to achieve that clean transportation future – driving economic benefits, electric grid benefits, and air pollution reduction benefits along the way.

About the Authors

Noah Garcia

Transportation Policy Analyst, Climate & Clean Energy Program

Join Us

When you sign up you'll become a member of NRDC's Activist Network. We will keep you informed with the latest alerts and progress reports.