Article courtesy of SWEEP, NRDC, and Western Resource Advocates.
Nevadans can save more than $14 billion through 2050 by moving from gas-powered cars to electric vehicles (EVs), according to a report released today. EVs can also reduce air pollution, providing an additional $3 billion in benefits for public health and the climate, and EVs can help make the electricity system more efficient, reducing utility customer bills by more than $3 billion. Altogether, the report identifies $20 billion in benefits.
The report, Plug-in Electric Vehicle Cost-Benefit Analysis: Nevada, was commissioned by NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP), and Western Resource Advocates (WRA), and was prepared by MJ Bradley & Associates, an ERM Group Company, that provides strategic consulting on energy and environmental issues.
“Many Nevadans know that EVs help reduce the air pollution that threatens our health, but not everyone realizes that they also reduce spending on fuel, maintenance, and even utility bills,” said NRDC Senior Attorney Max Baumhefner. “This report reminds us that EV drivers save every time they charge up and explains how getting more EVs on the road will reduce electricity prices for every Nevadan. That’s because EVs can charge while people are sleeping and there is plenty of spare capacity on the electric grid, which improves the utilization of the system and reduces everyone’s utility bills.”
“Driving on electricity will deliver major benefits for all Nevadans,” said Travis Madsen, Transportation Program Director at SWEEP. “As this report shows, the bigger Nevada goes on electric vehicles, the bigger the benefits will be. State leaders should act now to plug into an electric vehicle future.”
“Transportation electrification is a key strategy for reducing carbon emissions to help achieve our state climate goals,” said Cameron Dyer, WRA’s staff attorney in Nevada. “This report shows that increased use of electric vehicles will also curb harmful smog-causing air pollution and will lower costs for both drivers and electricity customers.”
The report calculated these savings by exploring a scenario where Nevada achieves one of the key goals in the State Climate Strategy: zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Given the significance of transportation pollution in the state, achieving this goal would require more than 15% of light-duty cars and trucks to be electric in 2030, two-thirds to be electric in 2040 and 95% to be electric in 2050.
Because the state’s electricity is increasingly generated using renewable resources such as solar and geothermal energy, these EVs will get even cleaner over time. The report calculates the benefits of this transition, including:
- Reducing costs for drivers: EVs are cheaper to operate than conventional cars. Driving on electricity in Nevada is significantly cheaper than driving on gasoline. EVs also do not need oil changes, transmission replacements, or other kinds of maintenance that conventional cars require. The study forecast that the average annual cost of owning a plug-in vehicle in Nevada will fall below the average cost of a gasoline vehicle by 2025, even without federal tax credits or other purchase incentives, thanks to rapid progress in battery manufacturing. As a result, the study estimated that electric car owners would save about $2,200 (nominal dollars) per vehicle per year in 2050, cumulatively saving Nevada EV drivers more than $14 billion over the next three decades (net present value, 2020 dollars).
- Reducing out-of-state fuel spending: The report found that deploying EVs at scale in Nevada would save more than 4 billion gallons of gasoline through 2050, fuel that Nevada would otherwise have to import from other states or countries. As a result, much more of our transportation dollars would stay local in Nevada, providing additional benefits. According to the report, every million dollars in fuel savings leads to roughly $500,000 in additional value for the state, and every additional 1,000 plug-in vehicles deployed creates 25 new jobs.
- Reducing electricity costs for all Nevadans: Nevadans would save more than $3 billion on their electricity bills through 2050 as a result of widespread EV deployment, the study found. By plugging EVs into the grid, EV owners put additional revenue into the electricity system. That additional revenue supports the operation and maintenance of the electrical grid, thus reducing the need for future electricity rate increases. This benefit can be maximized through programs that help the electricity grid operate more efficiently, such as by charging EVs at night when demand for electricity tends to be lower, or during periods of the day when solar energy production levels are high. With managed charging, the report estimates that the average Nevada household would save more than $120 in 2050 on their electricity bill as a result of the addition of electric vehicles to Nevada’s electricity system (in nominal 2050 dollars), or about a 6 percent reduction in electricity bills.
- Reducing air pollution: The study also estimated the benefits that flow from reduced tailpipe pollution. EVs produce no direct emissions; and as the state moves towards increasingly cleaner forms of electricity, EVs will also get cleaner. That makes EVs a major tool that Nevada can use to improve public health and reduce climate change. The study estimates that the cumulative social value of reduced emissions in Nevada through widespread EV adoption would approach $3 billion by mid-century.
Unlocking these benefits will require action. For example, Governor Steve Sisolak has launched a process to adopt Clean Car Standards in Nevada. This policy will bring more low-emission and zero-emission vehicles to Nevada dealerships, increasing affordability and delivering cleaner options for sale in the state.
Electric utilities will also play a key role in providing the infrastructure needed to fuel EVs. Nationwide, utilities are investing more than $2 billion in transportation electrification infrastructure and programs, including more than $750 million specifically focused on underserved and emissions-overburdened communities.
NV Energy currently offers an EV charging rate and a variety of incentives for residential and commercial customers through the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Demonstration program. The utility is proposing to expand those programs in a filing submitted to the state Public Utilities Commission on February 1.
The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), in a separate Transportation Electrification Scorecard released today, named Nevada a regional standout on transportation electrification policy and ranked the state 14th nationwide. ACEEE also noted that Nevada has considerable room to make further progress by setting more ambitious EV deployment goals, increasing incentives for EV purchases, improving transportation system efficiency, and improving equity to ensure that all Nevadans can participate in and benefit from the transition to clean transportation.
The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) a public interest organization promoting greater energy efficiency in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. For more information, visit swenergy.org.
NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than three million members and online activists. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, and Beijing. For more information, visit nrdc.org.
Western Resource Advocates (WRA) works to protect the West’s land, air, and water with a team of scientists, lawyers, and economists crafting and implementing innovative solutions to the most complex natural resource challenges in the region. For more information, visit: westernresourceadvocates.org.