The market and policy landscape for transportation electrification is changing rapidly. Every month, automakers are announcing new electric models. Private developers are investing heavily in charging stations. In the heavy-duty sector, improving technologies and government targets are accelerating the electrification of buses, ferries, freight, and fleets.
With such rapid change in this space, Seattle City Light worked with Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) to develop recommendations for a comprehensive transportation electrification strategy to identify how the utility can best enable and respond to opportunities as they emerge, while aligning with organizational priorities and the broader mobility goals of the City of Seattle.
On Friday, June 14, 2019, City Light and RMI hosted a transportation electrification workshop to inform key stakeholders of priorities identified in the recently completed Transportation Electrification Strategic Plan. About 60 attendees representing public agencies, local non-profits, members of the electric vehicle (EV) industry and various City departments, among others, participated in the event.
Based on market conditions RMI recommends that City Light focus on programs in three core areas:
- Invest in charging infrastructure with an emphasis on universal access and expanding coverage.
- Develop new rates and improve customer service for the transportation market.
- Prepare for heavy-duty electrification.
These priorities will guide City Light’s investment in customer products and services for the transportation market under the expanded authority of HB 1512, which provides clear authority to utilities like Seattle City Light to invest in the electrification of transportation infrastructure.
One highlight of the workshop was a feedback activity that encouraged group engagement and sharing of ideas around how City Light can work to ensure equitable outcomes in its future transportation electrification programs. Robust, direct community engagement was a common theme voiced during the activity.
Over the next several months, City Light will develop a Transportation Electrification Action Plan, which requires City Council approval, that will outline City Light’s approach to programs that respond to the three priority areas. The action plan will also define the framework City Light will use to develop future transportation electrification programs.
Over the coming months, City Light will conduct research and hold workshops with opportunities for public input to inform the program portfolio selection process. City Light is specifically interested in learning more about the needs and barriers to electric mobility for multifamily residential customers, underserved communities, mobility service providers and urban delivery fleets. We aim to have an approved plan by the end of the year; however, the action plan, and the proposed timeline, is still in the draft planning phase.