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Friday, April 16, 2021

Breaking Down Arizona’s Statewide Transportation Electrification Plan

This multi-phase initiative is intended to provide a roadmap for electric vehicle transportation in Arizona.

As more consumers turn to electric vehicles for their transportation needs, Arizona is addressing the prominence of the vehicle via the Statewide Transportation Electrification Plan.

According to Energy.gov, the United States used nearly nine billion barrels of petroleum last year, with two thirds of that used for transportation needs. Such reliance on petroleum makes America vulnerable to price spikes, and supply disruptions. An electric vehicle (EV) helps to reduce the reliance and threat because almost all electricity in the country is produced from domestic sources such nuclear, natural gas, and other renewable sources—making EVs imperative to a sustainable future.

Electric vehicles provide substantial benefits to not only owners, but to utility customers in general. They vastly improve air quality and can also aid in the growth of the Arizona economy. Because of this, the Arizona Corporation Commission ordered the state’s Public Service Corporations to develop a strategic, long-term Transportation Electrification (TE) plan for Arizona. 

Arizona’s electric utilities, along with regulatory agencies, policymakers, automakers, third-party charging service providers, and other stakeholders, must work together to support EV adoption while also integrating this new load into the existing electricity system. APS and Tucson Electric Power hired E3 and ILLUME Advising to conduct research and help launch the Arizona Statewide Transportation Electrification Plan along with participation by SRP.

The Statewide Transportation Electrification Plan is a multi-phase initiative intended to provide a roadmap for electric transportation in Arizona. The plan is focused on realizing the associated air quality and economic development benefits for all residents as well as understanding the impact of the electric vehicle charging grid. 

“Transition to electric vehicles isn’t just cars,” says Kathy Knoop, APS Energy Innovation Advisor. “It’s also garbage trucks, street sweepers and busses.”

There are currently approximately 1.7 million EVs across America, with 35,000 of those vehicles in Arizona. In comparison, California has about 700,000 electric vehicles in use on its roads. But EV numbers are projected to grow exponentially in Arizona over the next 10 years, and with that growth comes changes to the conventional transportation system. The Statewide Transportation Electrification Plan will help prepare the state to be ready for those changes. 

Phase One of the plan started in December 2019 and provides a conceptual framework, including planned or proposed near-term utility actions to support the growth of EVs in the state. Phase Two was recently rolled out, and builds upon the initial roadmap, with input from key stakeholders including non-governmental organizations, government agencies, and utilities. Phase Two also incorporates in-depth analyses of potential transportation electrification opportunities including air quality and economic benefits.

“We felt in order to do a comprehensive plan we needed a bigger process involving all entities to get their thoughts and input,” Knoop says. “The process was a way for us to know how to prepare for what’s to come, to identify gaps and to get to where we need to be.”

The popularity of EVs is growing fast as people better understand the technology behind them and realize the benefits of ownership. Ten years ago as EVs were first introduced, there was limited selection (and only two in Arizona), but by 2023 there will be 130 models available from the vehicle manufacturers. 

“Look at GM, by 2035 all (GM) vehicles will have plugs,” says Knoop. “We don’t want to wait 10 years from now when everyone owns an electric vehicle, we need to plan now so we can meet the needs as it happens.”

Arizona municipalities are already on board and anticipating the growth. The cities of Phoenix, Scottsdale, and others are moving forward with their own planning. The city of Avondale recently added an EV charging station to encourage more residents to switch to EVs in an effort to reduce the city’s carbon footprint. Flagstaff has begun the transition of its public bus fleet to electric along with Tucson who put their first electric bus into service last May. Phoenix Union High School District added its first electric bus back in January 2020.

In addition to helping residents understand the impactful benefits of EVs and preparing the state as a whole for EV growth over the years, the Arizona Transportation Electrification Plan will help APS serve customers with 100% clean, carbon-free energy by 2050, a goal the company set in January 2020. 

For more information on the Arizona Transportation Electrification Plan visit https://illumeadvising.com/azte/.

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