Energy Exchange

Texas grid reform report card is in, and it isn’t good

Following the historic and crippling grid failure caused by Winter Storm Uri in February 2021, the state of Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott and a bipartisan collection of elected leaders — pledged to ensure such a catastrophic disaster would never happen again.

The state Legislature, already in session, launched a series of hearings to find causes and culprits. Several organizations and energy experts provided state leaders suggestions and guidance; EDF was one of them. Our detailed report to the Legislature, issued in February 2021, recommended eight specific areas on which the state’s examination should focus.

Following the Legislature’s modest action, Gov. Abbott famously exclaimed, “Everything that needed to be done was done to fix the power grid in Texas.”

A look back at what’s actually been done so far to strengthen the grid, however, tells a very different story. Comparing the state’s action against EDF’s suggestions reveals a remarkably lackluster response to the biggest failure of state infrastructure and oversight in recent memory.

As we prepare to recognize the first anniversary of the grid failure, EDF graded the state’s response against our eight core recommendations.

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Smart charging should be integral part of a national EV charging network

Electric trucks are coming, and they’re coming fast. Just before 2021 drew to a close, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts joined California, Oregon and Washington to accelerate the adoption of zero-emission trucks with the adoption of the Advanced Clean Truck program. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, securing up to $67 billion in direct investment in zero-emission trucks and buses, as well as several critical tax credits to support the purchase and production of zero-emission trucks. And more than 150 truck fleets are either operating zero-emission trucks or have trucks on order.

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New York should accelerate the adoption of zero-emission trucks

On the heels of COP26, Governor Hochul has made it clear that New Yorkers must work together to tackle climate change in the state. And New York is taking steps to prioritize climate and clean air. Back in September, the Department of Environmental Conservation introduced the Advanced Clean Trucks rule, which requires manufacturers to produce and sell a percentage of new electric trucks annually through 2035.  Since the process began, there has been a 60-day public comment period, during which Environmental Defense Fund provided testimony at a public hearing and submitted joint comments with key stakeholders.

The ACT is a critical first step toward eliminating tailpipe emissions from new trucks and making the air cleaner and more breathable in neighborhoods across the state. But it is not — nor should it be — the sole means to mobilize the market for zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles and reduce pollution.  A variety of complementary policies must be put in place to allow for a cost-effective, equitable and sustainable transition to clean vehicles.

New York needs zero-emission trucks

Transportation is a leading source of air pollution in New York, accounting for 36% of all greenhouse gas emissions across the state. And while trucks only make up 5% of the state’s 10.6 million registered vehicles, the emissions produced from this sector are disproportionate to the population. Read More »

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New electricity rate will make truck and bus charging cheaper, cleaner in California

State regulators just approved a first-of-its-kind charging rate for electric trucks and buses in northern California that will make it more affordable for fleet operators to make the switch from diesel to electric.

This new “dynamic” rate changes on an hourly basis, offering more opportunities for fleet operators to charge their vehicles when electricity is cheap (for example, when the grid is underutilized or when clean electricity is plentiful). In 2019, state regulators authorized Pacific Gas and Electric Company to offer a commercial electric vehicle time of use rate; regulators also directed the utility to request a more dynamic rate option, which is what was just approved. PG&E offering a menu of options tracks with EDF’s recent recommendation that multiple options — to accommodate many different operational use cases — are needed to make commercial vehicle electrification as affordable and clean as possible.

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New analysis shows California is home to the most zero-emission truck, bus companies in the nation

From vehicle assembly to battery manufacturing, research and training, the zero-emission truck and bus supply chain is supporting thousands of jobs and billions of investments — in California and across the country — according to a new report by EDF released today. That’s good news, because the transition away from fossil fuels in the medium- and heavy-duty, zero-emission vehicle sector will require significant new investments in technology, infrastructure and logistics.

In California, much like the national picture, the MHD ZEV industry is far-reaching. Existing businesses in the transportation industry are adapting their offerings to provide MHD ZEV products, and there are a significant number of new market entrants.

California leads the nation with at least 128 companies in 181 locations involved in the MHD ZEV supply chain; 86 of these companies are headquartered in the state, with over 44,000 total employees. In addition, there has been over $3.8 billion of announced corporate investments in manufacturing, infrastructure, research and training over the last seven years.

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Climate planning is key for New York’s gas infrastructure

Next month, the New York Public Service Commission will be deciding whether a rate case settlement proposal between National Grid’s upstate gas and electric utility (Niagara Mohawk) and other groups is in the public interest, and whether the proposal is consistent with New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. This is the first major utility rate case to be conducted fully under the CLCPA as effective law, and makes clear the need for commission action to implement standards to achieve state climate goals.

But there is a cloud hanging over this proposal: the utility rate case paradigm guiding this proceeding is outdated and inconsistent with New York’s climate goals.

There is no question that to achieve the CLCPA targets — to reduce New York greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030 and 85% by 2050, below 1990 levels — natural gas use and combustion must decrease significantly. But the commission has not set clear standards to require that gas utilities plan for this transformational future, or to ensure utility rate applications and outcomes are consistent with the law. Decisive action is needed to address this disconnect.

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