Drive Electric Tennessee Needs Assessment Released for Statewide Charging Infrastructure

Drive Electric Tennessee published the Statewide Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Needs Assessment in November, following the release of the first edition of its Electric Vehicle Roadmap on January 18, 2019. The Roadmap set a goal to boost EV adoption to 200,000 by 2028 and identified projects and initiatives local stakeholders can implement to increase EV adoption statewide. 

The purpose of the assessment was to analyze the state’s current electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and find where new chargers should be placed to promote the continued adoption of EVs. According to the assessment, the main questions explored in the project include:

  • What is the coverage, usage, and state of repair of current charging infrastructure in Tennessee?
  • What are the plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) charging infrastructure needs in the state to support goal of 200,000 PEVs in Tennessee by 2028?
  • What gaps exist between the current infrastructure and future infrastructure needs?

To address these questions, the executive summary of the assessment is divided into four parts. According to the summary, the scope and key takeaways from each of these four parts are as follows:

  1. Baseline Light-Duty Assessment: In a research study of available data complemented by a field survey of 48 charging sites across the state, the assessment discovered:
    • 87 percent of surveyed charging sites were fully operational, matching public data from Plugshare.
    • There are opportunities for improvement with both user and host experience.
  2. EV Charging Use Case Tracks: Navigant’s VAST network siting optimization tool was used to identify potential geographic areas for charging infrastructure in order to meet the 200,000 EV goal. The assessment produced two maps of potential geographic areas for EV charging infrastructure to support deployment goals, which are:
    • Fast charging network map: Concentrated on or near corridors and high demands sites.
    • Level 2 charging network map: Complementary stations at fast charging sites and the majority of remaining use case tracks. 
  3. Use Case Prioritization: Through an evaluation of charging use cases based on market attractiveness and social impact, the assessment found that:
    • Primary market charging sites are more likely to attract private investment.
    • Corridor and secondary market sites may not attract private investment and are good candidates for public funding.
    • Multi-family sites are both attractive to private investment and have high social impact.
  4. Program Benchmarking: Data was collected on demographics, market development, utility programs, state EV policy, and outreach efforts across state and utility programs with attributes most relevant to the Tennessee market. The assessment found:
    • Broad stakeholder support is important to increase EV adoption.
    • Education and outreach efforts are important to successful programs.
    • Utility investment in make-ready infrastructure and EV rates are common in utility programs.

As TAEBC wrote earlier this year, advanced energy solutions, such as the adoption of clean transportation solutions, present economic development and job creation opportunities for the state. This newly released assessment highlights the value of moving forward with EV projects outlined in the Roadmap and establishing Tennessee as a powerhouse for EV manufacturing and use.

This goal was realized in November, when Volkswagen broke ground on its $800 million EV expansion at its Chattanooga plant, which will produce two battery-powered cars and create 1,000 new jobs in the region.

Volkswagen breaks ground on electric vehicle expansion at Chattanooga plant

Volkswagen recently broke ground on its $800 million expansion of its Chattanooga Assembly Plant that will produce two battery-powered cars and create 1,000 new jobs in the area. Construction is projected to take 17 months and hiring will begin at the end of 2020.

Around 200 company and auto industry representatives, state and local officials, plant employees, and members of the media gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony on November 13.

“This is a big, big moment for this company,” said Scott Keogh, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, in a prepared statement. “Expanding local production sets the foundation for our sustainable growth in the U.S. Electric vehicles are the future of mobility and Volkswagen will build them for millions of people.”

The factory expansion includes a 564,000-square-foot addition to the body shop and another 198,000 square feet for an assembly site for the vehicles’ electric battery packs. Tom du Plessis, CEO of Volkswagen Chattanooga said the plant is expected to produce over 100,000 electric vehicles (EVs) a year, with the possibly for 200,000, depending on the market.

Volkswagen currently produces its midsize Atlas SUV and the Passat sedan at the Chattanooga facility. Production for its EVs should begin in early 2022, where the first model will be an all-electric crossover based on the I.D. CROZZ Concept. It will be the first EV produced in the country using Volkswagen’s MEB platform.

This Volkswagen groundbreaking also further reinforces the state’s goal of becoming the top electric vehicle producer in America, as stated by Bob Rolfe, Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner. Rolfe was quoted in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, “Our goal is to be at the forefront of all electric vehicle manufacturing and the suppliers that will wrap around.”

Drive Electric Tennessee outlines plan for Tennessee’s electric vehicle future in statewide Electric Vehicle Roadmap

Drive Electric Tennessee, a statewide electric vehicle (EV) consortium, hopes to make the Tennessee Valley a leader in EV transportation in the Southeast over the next decade.

Throughout 2018, state agencies, universities, utilities, advocacy groups, electric vehicle OEMs, and other stakeholders collaborated to define their outlook for Tennessee’s clean transportation sector. In January 2019, Drive Electric Tennessee released the culmination of its hard work, A Roadmap for Electric Vehicles in Tennessee.

The Roadmap offers guiding principles, goals, opportunity areas, and approaches to get more EVs on the road during the next 10 years. According to the report, Drive Electric Tennessee aspires to significantly increase EV adoption from less than 5,000 EVs in 2017 to 200,000 by 2028.

Guiding principles behind the Roadmap focus on economic development, social benefits, cost-effectiveness, and technology innovation. The report states EV adoption in the state will promote local and regional economic development, reduce environment impacts, foster entrepreneurship and technical innovation, and prepare for a more connected, autonomous transportation sector in near the future.

The Roadmap identifies four key opportunity areas to address major EV market gaps in the state. Drive Electric Tennessee will meet each goal through the implementation of 45 projects and 15 initiatives over the next decade. Each opportunity area is tied to high-level, clean transportation goals for Tennessee. These four opportunity areas and goals are:

  1. Driving Charging Infrastructure Availability: Develop a charging infrastructure that enables Tennessee residents to (1) drive and charge an EV in their daily lives (home, work, and public charging) or (2) access electric public transit options.
  2. Driving Awareness: Increase awareness and first-hand experience of the benefits of driving an EV such that the majority of vehicle owners are aware of EVs when they begin their next purchasing process.
  3. Driving Innovative and Supportive Policies: Create consistent, innovative, and supportive policies across Tennessee at the state, county, city, and utility levels, inclusive of incentives, electricity rates, planning standards, and other policies and programs.
  4. Driving EV Availability, Offerings, and Innovation: Make EV models viable, accessible, and comparable purchasing alternatives to traditional vehicles.

At TAEBC, we believe advanced energy solutions, such as clean transportation, lead to state job creation and economic development. This Roadmap emphasizes the importance of stakeholders coming together to help Tennessee become a leader in EV adoption in the next few years.

As our state leads the country in employment for automobile and vehicle component manufacturing, we already have the potential to become an integral force in this bright future of the transportation sector.

This potential turned into a reality in mid-January, when Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam announced that Volkswagen will build their first EV manufacturing facility in the country in Chattanooga.

The project will create 1,000 new jobs in Hamilton county and serves as an $800 million investment from Volkswagen. Remarking on this deal, Rolfe told The Times Press Press that he intends for Tennessee to be number one in the country for EV manufacturing.

Both the announcement and Drive Electric Tennessee’s report demonstrates how Tennessee is turning stakeholder interest in sustainable transportation solutions into an economic reality to benefit all Tennesseans.

Here’s how Tennessee plans to spend $45.8 million from the VW settlement

(Originally published: The Tennessean)

Tennessee environmental officials released a plan that outlines how the state will spend $45.8 million from the Volkswagen diesel settlement.

The plan targets emissions from school buses, city buses, freight trucks and some other vehicles. Also, it invests in electric vehicle charging stations.

Diesel engines emit relatively large amounts of nitrogen oxides, which contribute to smog, and fine particulate matter harmful to human health. By expanding the electric vehicle charging network, the state also hopes to spur growth in the auto manufacturing industry.

The Volkswagen funding in Tennessee will be available for replacing older diesel engines with alternate fuel engines running on natural gas, propane, electricity, or diesel-electric hybrid. Also, recipients could replace older diesel vehicles and equipment.

“The goal of this plan is to reduce air pollutants that negatively impact our environment and public health,” Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Shari Meghreblian said in a statement. “We look forward to supporting projects in our state that will ultimately lead to an enhanced quality of life for Tennesseans.”

Read more here.

Deadline to submit comments for State of Tennessee’s Proposed Beneficiary Mitigation Plan

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has released for public comment the State of Tennessee’s Proposed Beneficiary Mitigation Plan (proposed BMP) for purposes of implementing the State’s initial allocation under the Volkswagen Diesel Settlement (VW Settlement) Environmental Mitigation Trust (EMT). The proposed BMP is intended to provide the public with insight into the State’s plan for use of the mitigation funds. Specifically, the proposed BMP outlines the Eligible Mitigation Actions (EMAs) or project categories that the State proposes to fund from the State’s initial EMT allocation of $45,759,914.40.

To access the proposed BMP, click here: State of Tennessee’s Proposed Beneficiary Mitigation Plan. Additionally, TDEC has recorded a presentation that addresses the various sections of the State’s proposed BMP. A copy of the presentation slide deck may be accessed here.

The State’s proposed BMP has been developed in accordance with the terms of the Environmental Mitigation Trust for State Beneficiaries (“State Trust Agreement“). This proposed BMP is not a solicitation for projects. As such, this proposed BMP includes limited detail on the application or project selection processes. Such information will be provided on the TDEC Webpage after the BMP has been finalized.

The public is encouraged to review the proposed BMP and submit comments via the public comment form below or via email to TDEC.OEP@tn.gov. The public comment period will remain open for thirty (30) days following the date of the release of the proposed BMP. TDEC will accept comments through 5:00 p.m. CST on August 17, 2018. All comments and input received will be reviewed and considered by TDEC personnel. The BMP will then be finalized, submitted to the Trustee, and released to the public.

Link to public comment form.