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A look at Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 in Nevada. (Source: Tesla)

Clean Transport

Nevada to Power Clean Vehicles with Clean Electricity

$2.8 Billion in Societal Benefits from Reduced Pollution, $14.1 Billion in Driver Savings, $3.6 Billion in Reduced Electric Bills

By Max BaumhefnerDylan Sullivan

The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada approved a $100 million program that will deploy charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs) along highways, in urban areas, at public buildings, in school and transit bus depots, and at Red Rocks and Lake Tahoe. Combined with the state’s clean vehicle standards and its aggressive renewable energy requirements, this means cars, trucks, buses, and boats in Nevada will be powered by increasingly clean electricity.

Image courtesy of Jessica Russo, NRDC

The “Economic Recovery Transportation Electrification Plan” proposed by NV Energy was required by Senate Bill (SB) 448 (Brooks). Nevada’s tourism-centric economy was hit hard by the pandemic, and the $100 million investment in charging infrastructure for light, medium, and heavy-duty EVs over the next three years was designed to provide much needed economic stimulus without straining the state’s budget.

Half of those investments will be made in communities that have borne a disproportionate share of transportation pollution and have suffered most from COVID-19 — a disease that is made more deadly by exposure to local air pollution.

SB 448 also requires NV Energy to propose subsequent “Transportation Electrification Plans” to keep the state on track to meet its climate, air quality, and equity goals. A report from MJ Bradley & Associates commissioned by NRDC, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, and Western Resource Advocates demonstrates Nevada could realize $21 billion in avoided expenditures on gasoline and maintenance, reduced utility bills, and environmental benefits by 2050 if more drivers make the switch to EVs.

Image courtesy of MJ Bradley and Associates

$14.1 Billion in Driver Savings

EVs save families money because driving on electricity is significantly cheaper than driving on gasoline. Furthermore, EVs have fewer moving parts and less required maintenance — no oil changes, no transmissions, no mufflers, no timing belts, etc. This means that tackling the nation’s largest source of carbon pollution, transportation, could save Nevadans over $14 billion by 2050 because EVs are cheaper to fuel and maintain than gas powered cars.

These are savings Nevadans can bank on because electric rates are inherently more stable than gasoline prices. Electricity is made from a diverse supply of domestic and increasingly clean resources. And, unlike the volatile world oil market, electric rates are regulated by state public utility commissions.

$3.6 Billion in Reduced Electric Bills

Nevadans can charge millions of EVs without making significant investments in the electric grid. This is because EVs can be charged when the grid is underutilized and renewable energy is abundant, like overnight, when people are sleeping and wind energy generation in the region often peaks. New utility revenue from EV charging in excess of associated costs could reduce collective electric utility bills in Nevada by $3.6 billion by 2050.

Such estimates of potential future benefits are credible because they comport with what’s already been observed in the real world. Between 2012 and 2019, in the two utility service territories with the most EVs in the United States, EV drivers have contributed more than $800 million in net-revenue — money that’s already been returned to all customers in in the form of lower rates and bills.

$2.8 Billion in Societal Benefits from Reduced Pollution

Widespread EV adoption would dramatically reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and also cut emissions of NOx, a local pollutant that threatens the health of all Nevadans, especially children and people with respiratory conditions. The MJ Bradley report finds growing the state’s EV market to meet Nevada’s long-term environmental goals would yield $2.7 billion in societal benefits, a metric that captures this pollution reduction and the associated health improvements.

The Bottom Line: Electric Cars, Trucks, & Buses Are Coming to Nevada

Adding it all up, that’s about $21 billion in potential benefits to Nevada by 2050 by getting more clean cars on the road. Thankfully, with second generation, longer range, affordable EVs now available, the market could expand rapidly as the state has now adopted Clean Car Standards that will ensure more EVs are available for purchase in the state. And, thanks to the $100 million investment approved today, there will be more plugs for those plug-in vehicles.

Originally published on the NRDC Expert Blog.

 
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NRDC is the nation's most effective environmental action group, combining the grassroots power of 1.3 million members and online activists with the courtroom clout and expertise of more than 350 lawyers, scientists, and other professionals.

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