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Charge! Report Says Electrification Is Nevada's Transportation Future

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Governor’s Office of Energy

A report on the future of transportation in Nevada features a Reno electric bus on its cover. One-third of the Washoe County municipal bus fleet is electric.

With a big push from Carson City, Nevada is hitting the accelerator when it comes to the electrification of the transportation system.

In an effort to cut the state’s greenhouse emissions nearly in half by 2030, Nevada is supporting renewable energy and the EVs that would make use of it.

Energy consultants Marie Steele and Lauren Rosenblatt of the firm E-Centricity wrote a report for the Governor’s Office of Energy that looks at the opportunities electrification of transportation provides. It starts: “Nevada’s future is electric, powered by its abundant sunshine and geothermal resources.”

To reach that future the consultants said the state needs a strategic approach to the issue, such as the November executive order by Gov. Steve Sisolak that directs his administration to work with private and public stakeholders on reaching climate goals.

Rosenblatt said the analysis of electrifying the transportation system wanted to look at it from several different policy angles, including renewable energy growth, energy independence, clean air and economic development.

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“What resulted is a report that, in fact, ties those policies together and makes those connections by showing that different agencies and political subdivisions that have the authority to implement those policies can do so by nurturing a transportation electrification ecosystem,” she said.

While electrifying transportation touches on all kinds of different departments and agencies, it is fundamentally about transportation, Rosenblatt said. 

She also noted that transportation is changing. Mobility of the future could be anything from on-demand shuttles to expanded ride-share opportunities.

However we get around in the future, those mobile solutions are moving towards electric vehicles.

“This is where, I think, the movement for transportation electrification has the opportunity to do the most work to ensure its success,” she said, “Government and commercial providers should be partnering to find incentives that drive these mobility solutions towards being electric.”

She said there needs to be "carrots," meaning incentives to use more electric vehicles, and "sticks," or deterrents to using internal combustion engines.

Marie Steele told KNPR's State of Nevada that the Silver State is already ahead of the rest of the country when it comes to adopting electric vehicles. 

She said that could be attributed to stronger state policies, more electric infrastructure and electric carmaker Telsa's strong presence in the state.

Steele said one of the most important takeaways from the report is that turning the entire system electric will help the state achieve a number of important goals.

“It does support air quality, renewable energy development, and economic development efforts so it’s a strategic move for the state,” she said.

But she notes it will take an effort across government agencies to achieve that goal.

However, it is not just government agencies that need to be involved in electrifying the transportation system. Rosenblatt said there needs to be a balance between market forces and government incentives.

The report includes several steps to getting to a fully electrified transportation sector but Rosenblatt pointed out her top three steps.

“My first recommendation would be for that Public Utilities Commission and the electric utility, with or without the directive from the Legislature, to initiate an investigation, a public proceeding to think about what a transportation electrification roadmap should look like,” she said.

Rosenblatt said other states have successfully expanded electric transportation with a long-term business plan to support it.

Related to a business plan, she said the state needs to find out exactly where people want charging stations to go.

“That’s where I see NDOT, our department of transportation, and again the Public Utilities Commission, doing a public survey with stakeholders on what a public charging infrastructure network should look like and where to place the public charging infrastructure so that it’s efficient for transportation and efficient for the grid,” she said.

And the final first step is looking at ride-sharing companies and how they are being taxed by the state.

“I would recommend the Legislature revisit that tax regime with those companies and think about how the revenues can be collected and then redistributed to not only support the complementary public transit that we have, which reduces congestion and fossil-fuel cars on the road, but also to distribute some of the monies back to a charging hub or an energy hub that transportation network company fleets can use as they become more electric,” she said.

Guests

Marie Steele and Lauren Rosenblatt, principals, e-centricity LLP

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