Ashley Horvat, Chief EV Officer at the Oregon DOT, explains how the recent eight-state ZEV Action Plan is the textbook to which participating states will turn to achieve a low-carbon environment and a clean efficient transportation system
The Action Plan, released in May 2014, is setting the bar for the promotion of zero emission vehicles by aiming to put 3.3 million on the road by 2025 and thus offering the prospect of a much cleaner and healthier environment in the USA. One of the most enthusiastic participants in the plan – and the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between state governors that spawned it – is Oregon. The state was already forging ahead with its own radical low/no-carbon agenda in the encouragement of EVs and alternative fuels, especially through its deployment of a border-to-border network of EV fast chargers along the West Coast Electric Highway. It was also the first state to provide the majority of its population (over 90%) with an EV fast-charger corridor.
Ashley Horvat, Chief EV Officer at the Oregon DOT, explained the enlightened thinking of the eight states that together represent about 23% of the US auto market: Given our share of the auto market, our states have a unique opportunity to influence the acceleration of the ZEV market. Without a significant penetration of ZEVs in each of our states, it will be impossible to achieve our goals to curb the negative environmental, economic, and health impacts of emissions that derive from a transportation system fueled by oil.
Horvat revealed that automakers, EVSE manufacturers, non-profits, and the rest of the EV industry were skeptical of the ZEV action plan at first. So, immediately after the release of the original MOU in October 2013, the Governors’ Interstate ZEV Task Force met with most of the major auto manufacturers for a workshop in Washington D.C. Four different workgroups relating to the four most pressing issues were created, in which an automaker and a state task force member served as chairs with participation from multiple automakers and states to produce a series of recommendations for inclusion in the plan. The automakers and the ZEV Task Force then set up a February workshop in Boston, the purpose of which was to include the rest of the key stakeholders in the EV industry. This workshop had a similar structure as the automaker workshop, in which we divided the participants into four breakout groups to prioritize recommendations for inclusion into the action plan.
Many of the Action Plan states were already committed to renewable energy and energy efficiency targets, which augurs well for ZEVs. Oregon specifically has a renewable portfolio standard, with aggressive targets for utilities, giving us the assurance that the infrastructure for which ZEVs will rely will only get cleaner, more sustainable and indelibly locally-generated, said Horvat. This will lend itself to not only cleaner air, but it will also help insulate our region from price shocks ‘at the pump’, a more reliable fuel source, and ultimately the money that remains in our region will boost our economy, sustaining thriving communities with modern mobility solutions that make environmental and economic sense.
Horvat continued: The common thread between the eight states is, of course, the regulations we have in place that automakers have to adhere to, which require a percentage of new vehicles sold in the states be zero emission. The impetus behind the MOU was that the states wanted a mechanism to convey collective commitment to supporting the acceleration of EV adoption, in collaboration with the automakers and the rest of the EV industry. They wanted this to be a mechanism beyond the passage of regulation requiring their sale through specific commitments like working to remove barriers and providing financial incentives from the highest level of state government. One key commitment in the MOU was to work with automakers to develop a plan within six months of MOU execution that included actionable items for MOU states to execute. In other words, the ZEV Action Plan is a product of the MOU that states will turn to when making decisions that support the rollout of the ZEV market.