What lessons can be learned from existing electric vehicle (EV) policies, incentives, laws, and regulations that can aid those making decisions for the future installation of EV charging infrastructure?
Estimates vary, but the U.S. may need as many as 900,000 public Level 2 EV chargers and 180,000 direct current fast chargers to support the number of electric vehicles on the road by the end of the decade. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed by Congress last November authorizes $7.5 billion to help meet President Biden's goal for installing 500,000 EV charging stations by 2030.
ICF worked with the Fuels Institute on a study to help guide federal, state, and local decision-makers in the development of policies and programs focused on Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) deployment. Released in early March, the study evaluated the effectiveness of various policy approaches in contributing to EV deployment and development of the broader charging market. The report was guided by the Fuels Institute’s EV Council, which includes EV charging companies, retailers, automakers, fuel companies, and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Common sense best practices
A number of key stakeholders—including state government officials, electric utility representatives, and electric vehicle service provider representatives—sat for interviews with our research team. Taken together, their expert advice provides a set of common sense best practices for EV deployment.
For example, aligning public and private efforts around EVs is most effective when setting actionable goals for charger deployment and transportation emissions reduction. Those goals are crucial to aiding the coordination between state and local agencies, as well as stimulating investment from the private sector. The stakeholders also said that EV charger deployment can be encouraged by streamlining permitting processes, developing simple and flexible funding application processes, and marshalling strong support for transportation electrification (and decarbonization in general) at the state executive and legislative levels.
Stakeholders and statistical analysis also indicated that multi-state collaboration is a strong driving force for EVSE deployment, including examples such as the Transportation and Climate Initiative, the Multi-State ZEV Task Force, and the Regional Electric Vehicle Plan for the West (REV West). Our research found that states with a combination of EVSE incentives and programs focused on transportation emissions reduction, such as these multi-state collaboratives, had among the highest levels of EVSE market development.
The role of public funding
More than 30 states committed public funding for the deployment of EV charging stations between 2016 and 2020. As the amount of public funding varies from state to state, we needed to take a closer look at the correlation between dollars and deployments. After plugging the data into a linear regression model, we found that—on average—$1.00 per capita spent may have yielded roughly 6.5 EV charging station deployments per 100,000 people. The model also estimates that public funding may have accounted for about one-quarter of variation in the number of state-level EV charging station deployments during this timeframe.
Our analysis also found that tax incentives, grants, and rebates are effective incentive mechanisms, and stakeholders shared that an emerging best practice is to use funds for supporting both operations and EVSE deployment. Simpler is better than prescriptive or complicated programs; wherever possible, decision-makers should prioritize flexibility and clear guidance for applicants.
A broad range of effective EV charging policies
We also wanted to understand if there was a connection between the types of EV policies implemented by various states and the degree of EVSE market development. We found that a number of policies—both those categorized as “incentives” and “laws and regulations”—have significant positive associations with market development.
Incentives include utility incentive programs as well as grants, rebates, and tax incentives. Laws and regulations include air quality and emissions reduction programs, legislation mandating or setting goals to increase charger deployments, requirements related to vehicle procurement and fuel use, and laws which allow charger hosts to resell electricity without being regulated as public utilities. Our analysis shows a statistically significant difference in measures of EVSE market development between states with and without each of these policy types.
As seen in the graph below, we also found higher measures of EVSE market development in states that have adopted a broader range of policy types.
EVSE Market Development Score is a weighted average of charging stations deployed per capita (75% weight) and EV sales per capita (25% weight).
While this figure shows scores in ones and tenths, original scores were in thousandths and ten-thousandths; scores were multiplied by a factor of 1,000 to improve readability of this figure.