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February 18, 2020
Utility Investment Outside CA Doubled in 2019
Source: EV Hub
Since the state's first approval in 2015, California has been the clear leader in utility investment for every year except in 2017 when the state accounted for only 13 percent of approved investment. As was the case then, utilities outside of California saw a surge in transportation electrification program approvals in 2019 and moved to close the gap in investment between the golden state and the rest of the country. Approved investment from other states more than doubled last year, increasing from $87 million in 2018 to more than $185 million in 2019. California’s share dropped from 89 percent in 2018 to 51 percent of the total approved investment in 2019 primarily due to the approval of major programs in 2018 and smaller investment amounts for newly filed programs.

While California still carried the lion’s share of approved investment last year, the regional dominance of the West Coast declined significantly. Claiming a commanding 93 percent of the approved investment in 2018, utility activity from the West Coast states including Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon, and Washington accounted for only 51 percent of all approved investment in 2018. Instead, utilities in the Central Atlantic and the Midwest increased their share of investment. The two regions accounted for 25 percent and 17 percent of the total approvals, respectively. In 2018, the Central Atlantic only claimed one percent of approved investment while the Midwest claimed three percent.

Wider geographical distribution of funds could help accelerate the EV market in states like New York and Minnesota. However, the drop in investment from California utilities led to an overall decline for the year. Approved investment in 2019 was worth a total of $375 million, down by roughly half from the $758 million approved in 2018.

Utility approval rates increased by two percent from the first half to the second half of 2019 and almost 70 percent of the total approved investment for the year fell in the final two quarters. Utilities ended the year with an approval rate of 72 percent, down 15 percent from the all-time high of 87 percent program approval seen in 2018. This dip was accounted for by significant denials and withdrawals, the largest of which included a $153 million denial of several programs proposed by National Grid in Massachusetts and the withdrawal of a $137 million program by San Diego Gas & Electric in California.

Other trends in utility engagement in transportation electrification remained relatively steady between 2018 and 2019 despite the drop in overall investment. The level of utility prioritization of underserved communities, for example, remained largely unchanged. In 2018, approximately 27 percent of all filed utility programs contained measures to prioritize underserved communities, which is roughly the same level of prioritization seen in 2019. California utilities continue to account for the bulk of programs that include a focus on underserved communities. In both years, approximately 40 percent of programs with a focus on underserved communities came from California utilities.

Filing activity in 2020 has been quiet so far with no approved investment recorded yet. Looking ahead, new programs proposed last year by electric utilities in 10 states could bring in an additional $223 million in investment if approved this year. While California only accounted for 20 percent of newly proposed investment in 2019, utilities across the state have more than $800 million in filed programs awaiting approval. Almost all of this comes from Southern California Edison’s Charge Ready 2 program worth more than $760 million. In October 2019, the utility was approved for $22 million in interim funding while the full program is reviewed by the commission. Other states look ready to give California a run for its money in 2020 and both New York and New Jersey have given their utilities and commissions a central position in the rollout of statewide transportation electrification plans. We will closely track these developments and will produce our first bi-annual update of 2020 in July with the support of our partners at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
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See Our Paper on Public Charging Investment

This brief provides an overview of the historical and current state of government, private sector, and electric utility investment in publicly available charging infrastructure in the United States. With increasing funding available from both the electric utility and government sectors, charging service providers and related stakeholders have a significant, near-term opportunity to grow the public EV charging network in the United States and reduce the dependency on government subsidization over time.

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2020 Federal Low or No Emission Program Funding Available

On January 17, 2020, the Federal Transit Adminsitration (FTA) announced the opening of the 2020 Low or No Emission (Low-No) Program. Under this cycle. approximately $130 million will be available for transit agencies in all states to go towards the purchase or lease of low or no emission vehicles as well as related equipment or facilities.

The main purpose of the Low-No Program is to support the transition of the nation’s transit fleet to the lowest polluting and most energy efficient transit vehicles. The Low-No Program provides funding to State and local governmental authorities for the purchase or lease of zero-emission and low-emission transit buses, including acquisition, construction, and leasing of required supporting facilities. Since 2015, the Low-No Program has awarded almost $350 million for ZEV transit buses and supporting equipment. This year’s allocation will be the largest amount of yearly funding to date. Proposals are due by March 17, 2020. Read More Here

DOE Announces $133 Million to Accelerate Advanced Vehicle Technologies Research

The U.S. Department of Energy announced up to $133 million in new and innovative advanced vehicle technologies research.  This funding supports research that will lead to more affordable, efficient, and secure transportation energy. Funded through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, this funding opportunity supports projects in advanced batteries and electrification in support of the recently announced DOE Energy Storage Grand Challenge.

This FY 2020 funding opportunity also supports priorities in advanced engine and fuel technologies including technologies for off-road applications, lightweight materials, new mobility technologies (energy efficient mobility systems), and alternative fuels technology demonstrations. Read More Here

New Jersey Legislature Passes New Bill Mandating Accelerated EV and Charging Deployment

On January 13, 2020, the New Jersey State Assembly and Senate passed S2252 establishing sweeping transportation electrification targets statewide. If signed by Governor Murphy, the bipartisan bill would establish a statewide public charging network to support an estimated 330,000 light-duty EVs by 2025.  

To support this acceleration, the bill proposes the deployment of at least 400 DC fast charging stations. To help expand the impact of this legislation, the bill also proposes the establishment of a statewide rebate program managed by the Board of Public Utilities. Funded at $30 million annually, the rebate program would offer incentives worth up to $5,000 to go towards the purchase of an EV with a sticker price below $55,000. Read More Here

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The fourth Annual 3 Revolutions Policy Conference has a cross-cutting theme of Climate and Equity. Key issues include data sharing, micromobility adoption, automated vehicle governance, ridehailing emission policy, and the evolution of public transit. The conference will tackle these challenges, and more, by highlighting strategies and innovative solutions. This year’s conference will engage voices from a diverse set of stakeholders, including members of disadvantaged communities, commercial drivers, land-use experts, energy utilities, tech companies, and elected officials. Read More Here.

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