October 21, 2020

3 reasons why electric vehicles and smart charging are essential for equitable mobility



Enel X recently announced its participation in a new digital home renovation series, GO GREEN, that empowers the American household to lessen its carbon footprint, save money, and live a healthy life through accessible and affordable clean energy solutions.


GO GREEN was created by Lucia Entertainment, a boutique creator and producer of unscripted content for digital distribution, and co-produced by The Solutions Project, co-founded by celebrity activist Mark Ruffalo, and in partnership with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP).


The first episode of GO GREEN [featuring Don Cheadle], shines a light on the importance of electric transportation and smart EV charging stations parking lots for frontline communities. It follows Maricela, a daughter of immigrants, who grew up poor in Los Angeles before receiving degrees from UC Berkeley and Harvard, and achieving her dreams of becoming an educator. Maricela eventually returned home to the neighborhood where she grew up to dedicate her life to teaching and taking care of her family. In the episode, Maricela speaks to the life changing solutions and how an electric vehicle and a JuiceBox smart EV charger help her safely transport her family, save money, and contribute to her community.


Global CO2 emissions need to fall to net-zero by mid-century to avoid the worst effects of climate change. As a subsidiary of the Enel Group, which has committed to 100 percent decarbonization by 2050 for its global operations, Enel X is enabling the proliferation of renewable energy and electric vehicles, by deploying smart energy infrastructure solutions that accelerate this transition, cost-efficiently for all. Below are three ways EVs and smart charging stations can support this mission.


1. EVs and smart chargers reduce driving costs.

The cost-effectiveness of electric vehicles and smart chargers are proven in numerous studies which show that EVs are cheaper to fuel and maintain than gas cars. The Union of Concerned Scientists analyzed the cost to refuel gas versus electric vehicles in 50 states, and found that on average, an EV driver saves $770 every year compared to conventional combustion cars, while total maintenance savings average $1,475 over five years. The cost of purchasing electric vehicles and smart EV chargers has also decreased substantially, such as the Nissan Leaf, which has an MSRP around $30,000 before incentives are applied. The Leaf can be as low as $18,000 for California applicants that make less than $150,000 per year, through the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP), which delivers $4,500 back and the full Federal Tax Credit that provides a $7,500 rebate. Furthermore, used versions of those same models are available for as low as $10,000.


With the federal and regional EVSE incentives available today, electric vehicles and supporting infrastructure are more affordable than ever. The U.S. Federal Tax Credit gives individuals between $2,500 - $7,500 for the purchase of a new plug-in electric vehicle; the exact amount depends on the car’s battery capacity. The incentive also provides 30% off a JuiceBox home charging station plus installation costs (up to $1,000).


2. Increased vehicle electrification reduces pollution, which disproportionately affects people living in frontline communities.

Air pollution levels remain dangerously high in much of the world, including the United States. Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that 9 out of 10 people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants. Transportation accounts for roughly 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the US, and more than 50% of emissions in California.


Air pollution doesn’t affect everyone in the same way. Studies have shown that low-income communities, which are often made up of people of color, are more likely to be located near freeways and in areas with high air and noise pollution. These populations are also more vulnerable to experiencing negative health impacts from pollution, with higher rates of heart and lung conditions.


Transportation electrification is a vital public health protection for these communities. A recent American Lung Association report found $22 billion in annual public health benefits via widespread transportation electrification across California.

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3. Electrification goals for transportation need to be accessible for everyone.

Many countries around the world have set ambitious electrification goals. While the US has not set federal targets, California has taken a major step that paves the way for future state and federal legislation. In September of this year, Governor Newsom announced a ban on all new gas-powered cars and passenger trucks sold in California. The fossil-fuel phase-out will begin in 2035, meaning that the state must ramp up the buildout of commercial EV infrastructure and public charging networks.


In order to meet this ambitious goal, transportation must be electrified equitably, in a way that makes EVs and charging infrastructure accessible to all. The financial and societal benefits of clean transportation must help all communities. Utilities have dedicated EVSE infrastructure funds to serve more multifamily unit complexes and commercial facilities in low-income communities, and improve equitable access.


Today, a majority of electric charging stations have been purchased by single-family homeowners. Yet in California, nearly 50% of people live in apartments and other multifamily unit dwellings. To help multifamily unit complexes and commercial buildings deploy ample EV charging stations for their tenants and visitors, some regions are offering lucrative incentives to offset the costs of EVs. One example of a regional incentive is Charge Up! LA, LADWP’s incentive program offering rebates up to $75,000, which covers much of the cost of installing commercial charging equipment.


In sum, electric cars and smart EV chargers are essential for disadvantaged frontline communities. They help lower transportation costs, reduce pollution, and enhance the health of the population. As the momentum of electric vehicle adoption and smart charging network deployments speed up, it is critical that the decarbonization of the transportation system occurs equitably, with particular attention paid to low income communities.

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