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Connecticut issues draft roadmap for widespread electric vehicle adoption

Connecticut has unveiled its draft plan for accelerating the deployment of electric vehicles to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and transition the state away from fossil fuels.

On Oct. 16, Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, or DEEP, released it's draft "Electric Vehicle (EV) Roadmap for Connecticut" plan, which identified policies, programs and strategies for speeding up widespread customer adoption of EVs and installations of EV charging infrastructure across the state.

With the goal of paving a way towards a robust, self-sustaining EV market in Connecticut, DEEP said in a press release that the Draft EV Roadmap builds upon the state's prior work with vehicle rebates and charging station grants. According to DEEP's projections, Connecticut will need to convert approximately 500,000 vehicles from internal combustion engines to electric engines by 2030 to meet its economywide greenhouse gas emissions-reduction targets of 45% from below 2001 levels by 2030 and 80% by 2050. The agency said that the transportation sector is currently responsible for almost 40% of Connecticut's greenhouse gas emissions and almost 70% of its smog pollution.

Asserting that wide-scale electric vehicle deployment is the primary solution for reducing harmful pollution like ozone and greenhouse gas emissions, the strategy calls for replacing cars and light-duty trucks, as well as medium- and heavy-duty vehicles that use internal combustion engines, with vehicles powered by low-to-zero carbon electricity.

Alongside an overview of Connecticut laws, regulations and policies that drive vehicle electrification, the roadmap included a cost-benefit analysis of the plan and described barriers hindering widespread EV adoption in the state. In addition, the roadmap identified potential policy directives and regulatory tools for Connecticut's Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, or PURA, to consider going forward.

Among its strategies, the roadmap focused on ways to make EVs more accessible and affordable by preserving vehicle purchasing incentives and developing a secondary EV market for used vehicles. DEEP also proposed integrating the charging of EVs into power grid planning processes and developing an "innovative" electric utility rate design to minimize grid impacts of EV charging while maximizing its benefits.

In addition to expanding and improving EV charging infrastructure and customers' charging experiences, including ensuring EV access in "underserved" communities, the proposal considered the role of marketing and public outreach in raising customer awareness.

Finally, the roadmap recommended that the state finance the EV deployment strategies through the strategic use of funds from the Connecticut Hydrogen and Electric Automobile Purchase Rebate program and from the state's consumer fraud settlement with German automaker Volkswagen AG for rigging diesel-powered vehicles to cheat on government emissions tests.

As the roadmap's strategies largely concern PURA's regulatory oversight of electric utilities, DEEP said that it will file policy recommendations in PURA's planned reopening of Docket No.17-12-03RE04, or the ZEV docket.

"Engaging these topics in PURA proceedings will ensure that DEEP’s views are informed by, and in dialogue with, the positions of other docket participants in the PURA process that can lead to the regulatory decisions necessary for implementation," said the Draft EV Roadmap.

DEEP will be accepting public comments on the draft plan until Nov. 11, including holding a public comment session on Nov. 8, before issuing a finalized plan with policy recommendations by early December. The roadmap stems from recommendations in DEEP's Comprehensive Energy Strategy that was issued in February 2018.