Arizona Follows California: Statewide Transportation Electrification Plan

by Sheryl Hamlin

History of Transportation Electrification in Arizona and California

A statewide Arizona Transportation Electrification (TE) Plan has been under discussion at the state level for several years. In December 2018, the Arizona Corporation Commission (AZCC) filed a policy recommendation for Electric Vehicles (EV) and associated infrastructure needs. The new Arizona EV growth plan was reported in July 2019 with the Phase I Plan produced for comment on December 2019. A sizable stakeholder group was formed and a Phase II plan was released in April 2021. On August 4, 2021, the AZCC held a Public Open Meeting to discuss the Phase II Plan. Read the agenda here. Note that only a small subset of the sizable stakeholder group spoke at the 4 and a half hour meeting.

California was mentioned several times during the lengthy AZCC meeting. It was noted by one speaker that initially the California public utility companies started making their own individual TE plans, but Governor Brown wanted a statewide plan. As this California document states, SB 350 in 2015 started the process for the new California Statewide TE Plan in which all IOU’s (Investor Owned Utilities) would participate and in 2020 the new TE Framework began officially with a ten year planning process.

Commissioner Comments

Each Arizona Corporation Commissioner was asked if he or she wanted to make a comment. Note that only the staff and the chair were present in the meeting room with others appearing remotely.

Commissioner Justin Olson opened by saying that the AZCC had a role in the process but he did not feel the commission has a role in requiring ratepayers to subsidize the EV industry above and beyond usage rates. One role he said was appropriate was rate design. Commissioner Tovar said she was learning from stakeholders about best practices and realized the importance of the issue of equity for low income and multi-family areas. Commission O’Connor said he was learning about this exciting space and concurred with Commissioner Olson about the subsidies. Chair Marquez stated that she supported a data based approach with focus on underlying infrastructure.

Speakers

ILLUME/E3
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
Arizona Public Service Company
TEP / UNS
Salt River Project
Tesla
Nikola
ChargePoint
EV.energy
PIRG
American Lung Association
Electric Power Research Institute
SWEEP
Alliance for Transportation Electrification
Advanced Energy Economy
Western Resource Advocates

Highlights

The speaker from Illume/E3 spoke of reduced Greenhouse Gases (GHG) and working with APS and TEP on the plan draft. Saying that momentum was building for EV adoption particularly because cost/benefits show positive benefits, but only when levels of adoption reached. He noted that (Arizona Public Service) APS and (Tucson Electric Power) TEP proposed a statewide 2030 goal. He said that California had led the way.


Illume/E3 slide showing states with TE Plans

Misael Cabrera from ADEQ spoke of the impact of federal regulations in particular ozone regulations. Mr. Cabrera said that California had led the way in policy, but NOT in results with some of the highest and most polluted GHG filled air in the country. He said that Arizona had been a leader in GHG reduction and Ozone concentration resulting from initiatives in the public sector. But the EPA has established escalating ozone thresholds for new business and that the EPA may assess Arizona in the “moderate” category in 2024 which would be considered serious non-attainment. During the Q&A he said that ADEQ maintained demographics by county with included environmental statistics. In answer to the question about unmet attainments, Mr. Cabrera said that the Clean Air Act specified offsets which were hard to find in Arizona because most industries were “clean”. He said that the free market is leading in Arizona and encouraged everyone to buy a new car to help the air.


Ozone Trends, source ADEQ

Utilities: Arizona Public Service (APS), Tucson Electric Power (TEP) and Salt River Project (SRP)

APS spoke of EV load management and grid preparedness with 100% carbon free by 2050 as a goal. The state will have Direct Current Fast Charging (DCFC) stations along the highway for long trips. With software, they will spread home charging over grid advantageous hours. 450,000 EV’s in Arizona by 2030 would be a realistic goal. TEP will convert 100% of its own fleet by 2030 and prepare the grid for the EV load, but did not elaborate this point. SRP spoke of Smartcharge Arizona, a pilot program to charge EVs intelligently by best usage of the grid. Tony Perez of SRP made the futuristic statement that power utilities will serve as transportation providers of the future. During the Q&A session, the topic of “managed charging” and its possibilities for grid optimization was explained. In this scenario, the EV charger is connected to a network where software and load determine when to load or unload EV power.

Manufacturers

This group included Tesla, Nikola and EV.energy, each with unique offerings for the move away from the gasoline powered internal combustion engine (ICE).

As Tesla’s penetration chart of charging stations showed, the company is not waiting until TE plans are finished to roll out product. The charging stations map to the areas with the highest adoption of EV vehicles as shown in the chart below of EV distribution provded by EPRI. Tesla has 2,699 superchargers in North America according to their representative. Nikola is an Arizona company with 700 employees featuring a product line of electric trucks and hydrogen fuel cells. The company was founded in 2015 and has raised $1.5 billion in capital. They use APS power to generate hydrogen. Ev.energy provides a software platform for active, managed charging of electronic vehicles. The representative mentioned California’s excess solar power without elaboration. This article gives background on the issues CAISO faces in maintaining grid capacity. Ev.energy software considers static load shifting, TOU (time of use), renewables integration, demand/response and vehicle to grid energizing in the event of emergencies.


Source: EPRI

Public Interest Groups

The speakers represented a subset of the Public Interest Groups in the main body of participants in the plan. Most all urged the AZCC to adopt the TE Plan. The American Lung Association spoke of the health benefits of electric vehicles and suggested viewers read the “State of the Air” national air quality report (lung.org/SOTA). The chart below shows a few Arizona rankings. EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute) spoke of the strong market adaption even during the pandemic and said bigger EV’s in the form of fire trucks, trash and delivery will be coming soon. The Alliance for Transportation Electrification reminded the commission they had submitted rate design principles. The representative said many utilities are members of the Alliance. The big issue, he said, is getting over the “adaption hump”, which would provide a path to profitability. Western Resource Advocates said that Arizona needs an approved TE plan to advance adaption.


Source: American Lung Association

Topics not Covered in Hearing

The speakers generally covered the demand side of the TE plan, but there was nothing about the supply side. As more and more people move to EVs, how will the grid be improved to accomodate more users.

California has convinced FERC to block energy flowing to Arizona. Read Chair Marquez’ statement on this issue here. California is desperately trying to fast track battery storage projects to save excess solar power. Remember, too, that California has shuttered all but one of its nuclear power plants and plans soon for the final one to close. Furthermore, Arizona’s hydro electric power is in jeopardy due to the drought. Power sources should be part of the TE plan including a discussion of nuclear.


Source: eia.gov

Another source of power to add to the grid is waste to energy. Wastewater plants, dairy farms, landfills all provide sources of power which can be reclaimed. These techniques are in use around the world. In Arizona, the City of Glendale has such a project. Read about the project here.

Nothing was said about TAAS (Transportation as a Service). Will there be the same models of vehicle ownership in the future as we have now? How will car sharing effect the growth models?

Several of the speakers spoke of the improved cost of ownership of EVs, but there was nothing said about lithium battery disposal. At this point, the lithium battery disposal is not part of the manufacturer’s cost or the owner’s cost. When the government is no longer subsidizing this disposal, these costs will be moved to the manufacturer and the owner. Read more about this disposal issue here.

No discussion about electric vehicles is complete without discussing the environmental destruction of pristine desert lost to massive solar farms. With acres and acres of commercial and residential rooftops, the value of a distributed, rooftop solar solution must be compared to the loss of pristine desert. Another obvious advantage is security. A distributed model is less susceptible to wide-scale outages because the modules are smaller. Although the cost of the rooftop model is higher, the rewards are potentially greater.

To watch the video of the meeting, go to https://www.azcc.gov/live and click “Archived Meetings” at the bottom of the page.

To read more about the author, click sherylhamlin dot com


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Sheryl Hamlin

And another 3,000 acres of desert ecosystem lost to solar panels. And we wonder why there are constant ozone alerts?

https://www.nexteraenergyresources.com/sonoran-solar/project-overview.html

William Hicks

QUESTIONS:

What will be the source of energy to provide this massive increase in electricity use?What are the health risks in mining the needed elements to produce the batteries necessary for EV’s?Are there known/unknown environmental pollutants connected with EV batteries? Are there fumes produce from these batteries?Wouldn’t Arizonans be wiser to wait and see the good and bad with EV’s in California before they commit to such a venture?

Sheryl Hamlin

Not fumes, but EMFs

William Hicks

IF all current automobiles were electric, I wouldn’t be so sure that there wouldn’t be some air pollution as a result. Then add the environmental damage from the mining of the elements necessary to produce those batteries.

William Hicks

There are consequences to massive decision making. Remember when we went from paper to plastic to save trees only to go from plastic to reusable bags at our grocery stores. Decisions on a massive level before considering the results is what is common between this run for electric and what kind of bags are used at our grocery stores.

William Hicks

Sheryl

One thing that we may be able to agree with is that left to politicians, they will always go for the one size fits all without consideration for short or long time consequences.

Are we going to radically change automobiles at a high cost for the specious thought of our doom for human use of carbon based fuels?

Tommy

Yeahhhhhhh, California has shut down Nuke and Coal…. leading to brownouts and massive (non ‘green’) energy imports, making Californians vulnerable brownouts. And adding more electric cars will only MAKE THINGS WORSE. The leadership in California really seems to be taking a whizz, instead of thinking rationally.

Sheryl Hamlin

More details here on the CA plan and their schedule for adoption of EV and its required infrastructure…

https://www.utilitydive.com/news/cpuc-10-year-transportation-electrification-planning-process/572066/

Kari

I’m tired of California’s trying to make Arizona like california