Houston workshop lays foundation for the road to ZEV trucks

Last month, EDF co-hosted a workshop in Houston on the state of zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles in Texas. Partnering with Evolve, the Houston-Galveston Area Council and Port Houston, we met at the NRG Center with dozens of industry experts, government officials, fleet managers and drivers to talk about the economic and environmental opportunities that transitioning to zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles offers for Texas. At the end of the workshop, participants were able to enjoy a ride-along with the latest Nikola ZEV truck.

The Houston area is one of the largest industrial centers in the country, as well as home to several of the largest oil-and-gas companies in the world. EDF’s work in the Houston area — from community engagement and learning programs with students, to stakeholder meetings with government officials, Port Houston and industry leaders — is essential to transforming the country’s transportation and energy future. Though Texas trucks account for only four percent of the vehicles on the road, they are responsible for 90% of the state’s nitrous oxide emissions.

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During the Houston workshop, EDF talked about the environmental and economic opportunities ZEV trucks can bring to the region. Texas is home to over 80,000 truck companies, and more truck drivers than any state in the country. Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, investments in trucks and technology are going to accelerate the adoption of zero-emission vehicles, delivering purchase price parity for new ZEV trucks five to 12 years earlier than previously estimated.

The transition to ZEV trucks will also help Texas’ environmental air quality. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality estimates that “mobile sources to be responsible for more than half of NOX emissions in certain non-attainment areas in Texas.” The Houston-Galveston region is currently under moderate nonattainment status for the 2015 ozone standard, and severe nonattainment status for the 2008 standard.

As part of EDF’s ongoing commitment to help fleets of all sizes transition to cleaner ZEV truck models, and reduce the dangerous air pollution associated with older diesel trucks, the workshop was designed to, bring industry and communities together and to showcase the latest in ZEV truck technology. It also served as a platform for the distribution of the Texas supplement of EDF’s Fleet Electrification Solutions Center, a comprehensive guide that provides fleets with information to assist with successful adoption of electric Class 3-8 vehicles.

Workshop attendees heard from the TCEQ about increased funding opportunities for ZEV trucks and technology the agency is promoting through the Texas Emissions Reduction Program. CenterPoint Energy, the lead utility in the region, talked about their own ZEV transition for their fleets and provided guidance on how companies can plan and apply for the necessary vehicle charging infrastructure throughout the region. Experts from the North American Council on Freight Efficiency, ElectroTempo and Port Houston also spoke about what decision-makers need to consider when preparing an entire region for a ZEV transition.

The workshop, EDF’s first in the Houston area on zero-emission trucks, proved both a success and learning opportunity for all involved, and laid the foundation for accelerated policy and organizing efforts for a ZEV transition that could truly transform the state’s energy and transportation landscape.

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