“Electric Island" is a joint project of Daimler Truck North America and Portland General Electric, designed to accelerate the development, testing and deployment of zero-emissions commercial vehicles.  -  Photo: Daimler Truck North America

“Electric Island" is a joint project of Daimler Truck North America and Portland General Electric, designed to accelerate the development, testing and deployment of zero-emissions commercial vehicles.

Photo: Daimler Truck North America

Jurisdictions that represent 36% of the nation’s medium- and heavy-duty vehicles unveiled an Action Plan of recommendations for accelerating the transition to zero-emission trucks, vans, and buses.

17 states, D.C., and Quebec developed the plan working through the Multi-State ZEV Task Force facilitated by the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM). The U.S. jurisdictions in the initiative collectively represent 43% of the population, nearly half of the economy, and 36% of the nation’s medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, according to an announcement.

This is the result of two years of work after a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) announced in July 2020 directed the Multi-State ZEV Task Force to recommend strategies to accelerate the deployment of electric trucks and buses, with a focus on communities overburdened by higher levels of air pollution.

The MOU also established goals to make at least 30% of new medium- and heavy-duty vehicle sales zero-emissions vehicles by 2030, and 100% by 2050.

This Action Plan was developed by the following jurisdictions: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, District of Columbia, and the Canadian province of Quebec.

The plan includes more than 65 strategies and recommendations for policymakers to consider to accelerate electric truck and bus adoption, among them:

  • Sales and purchase requirements like California’s Advanced Clean Trucks regulation.
  • Fleet purchase and annual reporting requirements for publicly owned, controlled, and contracted fleets.
  • States should prioritize electrifying public fleet vehicles operating in communities disproportionately affected by air pollution.
  • Vehicle and infrastructure purchase incentives.
  • Utility investment in charging infrastructure.
  • Innovative financing mechanisms.
  • Workforce development programs.
  • Deployment of public charging in communities and along travel corridors.

Addressing Electric-Truck Price and Charging Obstacles

“Providing purchase incentives to reduce or eliminate the purchase price differential for MHD ZEVs and the cost of charging and fueling infrastructure are among the most important actions that states can take to accelerate electric truck and bus adoption in this early market,” explains the report.

“This is particularly true for smaller fleets, independent owner-operators, and minority-owned fleets in low- and middle-income communities that may not have sufficient capital or access to affordable financing sources to front load the cost of higher priced ZEVs and charging/fueling infrastructure…. The most effective incentive programs are point-of-sale programs that provide ‘cash-on-the-hood’ at the time of purchase.”

The plan also addresses one of the other most often cited challenges for EV adoption by fleets: “Widespread electrification of trucks and buses will present a new set of grid management challenges and opportunities for utilities. Many fleets will require fast high-powered charging to reduce refueling time for their electric trucks and buses, along with localized grid upgrades to serve the increased power load. … Utilities and utility regulators must play a central role in MHD fleet electrification to ensure a smooth and rapid transition.”

The participating jurisdictions are already moving forward to implement the plan’s recommendations:

  • In 2021, Quebec adopted a regulation requiring all new school buses to be electric.
  • Six states — California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Washington — have adopted the Advanced Clean Trucks regulation, which requires medium- and heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers to sell an increasing percentage of ZEVs.
  • California, Massachusetts, and Oregon have adopted the Heavy-Duty Engine and Vehicle Omnibus regulation to reduce NOx and PM emissions from heavy-duty trucks while the market transitions. Other states are actively working to adopt these rules, and many have set targets to transition state and municipal fleets.

The plan emphasizes the need for a “whole-of-government” approach across government agencies to ensure that transportation electrification policies deliver benefits where they are needed most.

The Action Plan also highlights the economic and job opportunities associated with medium- and heavy-duty ZEV market growth and the benefits of multi-state collaboration. The plan recommends partnerships with the trucking industry, community groups, labor groups, educational institutions, and others to develop workforce training and re-training programs, and identifies key labor issues impacting workers.

NESCAUM is the non-profit association of air quality agencies in the six New England states, New Jersey, and New York, which supports state initiatives to improve air quality and address climate change and works closely with states on adoption and implementation of California’s emission standards for new cars and trucks in lieu of federal standards. NESCAUM also facilitates the Multi-State ZEV Task Force.

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