Arizona Poised to Accelerate Electric Vehicle Adoption

December 2, 2019 | Caryn Potter

Conversations centered on transportation electrification continue to pick up steam across the Southwest. This is especially true in Arizona since the Arizona Corporation Commission approved two electric vehicle policies in January 2019 and July 2019. Heightened interest in transportation electrification policies is one reason why SWEEP, Plug In America, and Arizona State University’s Energy Policy Innovation Council, recently organized the first annual Arizona Transportation Electrification Forum. This forum launched the first of many events tailored to promoting conversations between policymakers, city managers, fleet operators, private industry, and private and consumer advocates around what it will take to see mass adoption of electric vehicles and transportation electrification technology across Arizona.

The event started with an opportunity for event attendees to test drive an electric vehicle. Vehicles from the automakers Nissa, Audi, Tesla, and BMW were available to take anyone interested out for a spin. Also, many local electric vehicle enthusiasts came to showcase their personal cars, which included a Chevy Spark, Jaguar I-PACE, Chevy Bolt, and many more.

The forum, which had more than 140 participants from various disciplines, featured speeches from the Arizona Department of Administration’s Director Andy Tobin, Arizona Corporation Commission’s Chairman Bob Burns, and Plug In America’s Executive Director Joel Levin. Another unique feature of the forum was a graphic note-taking artist who captured the main themes of the forum through art.

The Arizona Transportation Electrification Forum highlighted three areas of focus and also recognized those who are going above and beyond to electrify Arizona’s transportation sector.

Transportation Electrification Market & Benefits for Arizona

Featuring speakers from Nikola Motors, Tesla, Atlast Public Policy, Western Resource Advocates, and the American Lung Association, this session focused on setting the stage for transportation electrification in Arizona. Panelists discussed strengths such as the numerous benefits of electric vehicles, as well as roadblocks, such as the lack of a greater charging network across the state. The panel concluded that transportation electrification was key to improving Arizona’s air quality, saving Arizonan’s money, and strengthening the local economy.

Arizona Utilities & Transportation Electrification Programs

With representatives from Arizona Public Service (APS), Salt River Project (SRP) and Tucson Electric Power (TEP), Greenlots, and Travis Madsen, SWEEP’s Transportation Program Director engaged in a dialogue on what each utility is currently doing and what they are planning for in the near future. Also, Travis Madsen reminded the audience and other panelists that while it is great to have serious investments in electric vehicle charging infrastructure, we also need incentives that drive consumers to purchase electric vehicles.

Keynote Speaker and Award Program:

Arizona Corporation Commission Chairman Bob Burns expressed his support for electric vehicles while telling a noteworthy story about his experience trying to charge his own Nissan Leaf while driving to Sedona.

After Chairman Burns’s talk, our co-organizer Plug In America presented four awards to leaders across Arizona who are paving the way to an electrified future. The City of Flagstaff, the Phoenix Union High School District, the Arizona Corporation Commission, and the Salt River Project Board, Management and Staff were all recognized with Arizona Drive Electric awards for their leadership on electric vehicles.

After the keynote speech, attendees were given a special surprise by the City of Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. Mayor Gallego issued a proclamation announcing the City of Phoenix’s first transportation electrification day!

Envisioning a Long-term Transportation Electrification Plan for Arizona

The final session of the forum focused on the policy actions for Arizona’s Legislature, cities, transit agencies, businesses, and regulatory agencies. SWEEP and its partners intend to produce a report synthesizing the discussion and capturing the recommendations from the day.

Media coverage of the event featuring interviews with SWEEP’s Transportation Program Director, Travis Madsen, can be found below:

For further information

Travis Madsen, Transportation Director, SWEEP | 720-937-2609