An accelerated path to widespread electric vehicle use in Arizona would save Arizonans $13.7 billion per year by 2050 compared with no action to electrify transportation, according to a report and policy brief released today by Western Resource Advocates (WRA), GridLab, and Evolved Energy Research.
Ensuring 100% of new car sales are electric vehicles (EVs) by 2035 would significantly lower energy costs for Arizonans, the analysis found. Reaching 100% electric new cars by 2035 and 100% electric medium- and heavy-duty truck sales by 2040 presents the least-cost pathway for Arizona to reduce harmful fossil-fuel emissions from both its transportation sector and economy-wide.
In contrast, no action toward transportation electrification would require Arizona to spend 1.9% of its gross domestic product (GDP) annually in 2050 on infrastructure related to electricity generation, fuel production, demand-side measures, and other energy components. This is because the state would need to invest heavily in a larger energy system to meet both increased electricity demand and demand for liquid fuels to power the large number of internal combustion vehicles still on the road.
The report, “Arizona Clean Transportation Pathways,” was commissioned by WRA, and GridLab and Evolved Energy did the research and data modeling. An accompanying policy brief provides recommendations on ways Arizona decision makers can achieve a rapid path to transportation electrification and help Arizonans realize the accompanying economic benefits.
“By taking action now to accelerate adoption of electric vehicles, Arizona would reap significant economic benefits in the decades ahead while also reducing the unhealthy fossil-fuel pollution that contributes to poor air quality and climate change,” said Alex Routhier, Western Resource Advocates’ senior clean energy policy analyst in Arizona. “Electric utilities and state and local decision makers all have a role to play in supporting EV use and educating consumers about the benefits of electric vehicles. Policies that reduce EV adoption barriers for low-income customers and increase the availability of EV charging infrastructure across the state would help ensure all Arizonans gain the benefits of pollution-free transportation.”
“Rapid electrification of the transportation sector is critical for Arizona to reduce economy-wide emissions and keep costs low for consumers,” said Taylor McNair, program manager at GridLab. “Arizona must begin planning now in order to ensure that nearly 100% of vehicle sales are electric by 2035. At the same time, the state must deploy increasing amounts of renewable energy, to meet rising energy demand.”
“No action toward increased transportation electrification would bring higher costs for Arizona consumers in the years ahead,” said Jeremy Hargreaves, principal with Evolved Energy Research. “Arizona decision makers would be wise to take steps now to ensure the transition to electric vehicles occurs quickly and the electric infrastructure is there to support it.”
The policy brief notes a rapid transition to vehicle electrification provides clear benefits to Arizona consumers through increased efficiency, decreased fossil fuel use, and less overall spending on energy. Rapid transportation electrification also will require a coordinated rollout of charging infrastructure and careful planning to prepare for increased electricity demand.
Arizona already stands to get up to $76.5 million in federal funds over the next five years to develop electric vehicle charging stations along interstate corridors, through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program, with $11.3 million coming in fiscal year 2022. Additional state and local efforts to accelerate EV adoption are also essential to ensure Arizonans can achieve the full economic and health benefits of clean transportation while reducing the harmful emissions that cause climate change.