New report: AWEA offers guide to electrification policies

The way we power everyday life in the U.S. is changing. Electric vehicles (EVs) are exploding in popularity. Home heating is becoming electrified. Even New York City is adding electric buses to its fleet. But how do we make sure the nation’s infrastructure keeps pace with these changes? And how do we ensure these new electrified products are powered by clean energy from sources like wind?

To help answer these questions, AWEA just released a new report, “A Shared Future: Electrification and Renewable Energy featuring Example State Legislation to support Electrification Strategies.” This resource for electricity providers, state legislators, regulators, and other stakeholders will help inform them as they develop electrification strategies. The report also offers insights to help states advance critical infrastructure investments and develop comprehensive strategies that include EV charging infrastructure investment, renewable energy additions, and transmission expansion.

Wind pairs well with electrification

This report is coming at just the right time, as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates that electrification could boost electricity load growth up to 38 percent nationwide by 2050.

Consumer-driven adoption of EVs and other forms of transportation electrification will account for the largest increases in electricity demand, both in the near-term and through 2050. While support grows for an increasingly electrified future, there is similar support for renewable energy expansion as EV drivers prefer to use renewable energy to charge their vehicles.

Wind energy in particular is ideally suited to meet the new demand spurred by electrification. Onshore wind generation tends to be strongest at night, exactly when EV drivers most often charge their vehicles. There is also a seasonal correlation, as wind generation tends to be strongest in the winter in most parts of the country. That pairs well with wind, because residential and industrial electrification are expected to grow and shift peak electricity demand to the winter in the coming decades, particularly in the Midwest and Northeast. That means wind is well-positioned to help meet the burden of this shifting demand.

Guidance for creating an electrified system

Importantly, AWEA’s new report includes sample legislation for states considering new bills or updates to existing laws to meet the needs of an electrified world. This sample legislation was drafted with the intention of allowing each state to tailor the legislation according to its own needs and circumstances, especially where conflicting provisions already exist.

Essentially, the sample legislation directs state Public Utility Commissions (PUC) to approve an electricity provider’s electrification program if it is found to be in the long-term public interest and provides consumer benefits, with all related costs “prudently incurred and recovered in a just and reasonable manner.” Programs should include grid readiness measures, stakeholder engagement, consumer education, deployment of charging infrastructure, and environmental impact considerations. As a resource, the sample legislation also provides a menu of incentive options that states can establish to grow access to new technologies.

Some electricity providers have already jumped on the electrification bandwagon. Austin Energy, Georgia Power, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, and Xcel Energy are recognized in the report for their forward-thinking electrification programs, which include components like time-of-use rates, charging infrastructure incentives, renewable energy procurement, and rebate packages for home electrification.

General Motors (GM) and Siemens were also highlighted as companies on the front lines of electrification. GM has set a goal of launching at least 20 new all-electric models by 2023 and is the only U.S. automotive company committed to 100 percent renewable energy. Siemens has developed a tool to estimate the infrastructure requirements and potential impacts of electric transportation in cities over the next 30 years. The innovation driven by these utilities and corporate leaders will help states achieve their electrification goals and meet consumer expectations. We look forward to seeing others do the same.

You can find our full report here as well as a fact sheet here.

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