Collaborative Conversations: Writing the Road Atlas for Transportation Electrification

Electrification of the transportation sector offers many promises. But to get there requires navigating multiple parallel paths and crossing many bridges. What’s the way forward?

Join the GW Law's Sustainable Energy Initiative for a brainstorming and progress-sharing roundtable. The goal of the morning roundtable is to identify critical paths and potential barriers to increased electrification of the transportation sector – cars, trucks, rail, ports, etc. - through an informal exchange. Critical ideas surfaced will become the basis for a full-day cross-disciplinary program to be held this fall.  Attend this teach-and-learn session as we identify and winnow issues related to this exciting new area.

Consistent with past roundtables, there are no formal presentations beyond introductory remarks needed to set the stage.  All participants are invited to engage in a salon-style exchange among peers over the course of the 2.5 hour session in which they can offer both their knowledge and their questions.  Space is limited. The discussion is under Chatham House Rule*, but the session will be recorded to facilitate production of a conference report summarizing the discussion.

  1. Widespread deployment of electric transportation has implications for the distribution system/grid modernization process; the load-shape; resource adequacy; and availability of storage to the grid. Implications include changing infrastructure needs, rate designs that maximize social benefits and avoid creating or exacerbating mismatches between load and resources and the challenge of harnessing the value of mobile storage devices. What do regulators and utilities need to anticipate and plan for, and how quickly?
  2. The build out of charging station infrastructure has a symbiotic relationship to market penetration of electric vehicles.  Building this infrastructure invokes complex questions about financing, ownership, interoperability, and standardization.  These decisions must be made despite many other unsettled factors, such as the business models for battery ownership, changing trends in private vehicle ownership and ride-sharing, and the potential for battery range extensions that will reduce the need for charging stations.  Will we best meet the parallel needs for timely deployment and risk management with regulation or markets? How?
  3. Both the US Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have upcoming review obligations for the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.  If the Trump Administration weakens the CAFE standards, this could substantially affect incentives for electric vehicles.  It could also include changes in overall program stringency, changes in compliance mechanisms and flexibilities, and in particular changes to the Phase II standards’ provisions focusing specifically on crediting for electric vehicles. How does the electric industry deal with this uncertainty and what are the implications for the environment?
  4. The electric generation fuel mix! If the point of electrification is to clean up emissions, then the fuel mix behind the electric meter needs to be clean. Otherwise the new electric load will just prolong the life of coal plants. How do we do that?
  5. What measures can the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or state public utility commissions take, giving due weight to jurisdictional considerations, with respect to wholesale markets, aggregation rules, retail rates, and infrastructure development to make the most of the opportunity that transportation electrification presents?

* When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.