New York’s EV plan is missing a very important piece: trucks and buses

By Elizabeth B. Stein

UPDATE : Since the publication of this blog post on June 11, 2020, the New York Public Service Commission released an order that recognizes the legitimacy of calls from stakeholders to address the requirements of both passenger EVs as well as trucks and buses. It proposes a $15 million “make-ready” pilot program for medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicles that, among other considerations, “must support a direct reduction of diesel emissions located in environmental justice communities through electrification of the medium-duty/heavy-duty vehicles and trucks.” In addition, the commission directs $10 million toward utilities partnering with transit authorities in the state to provide make-ready bus infrastructure in depots, and directs the establishment of a $20 million competition to drive innovation in the medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicle sector. This innovation competition will give heightened consideration to last-mile movement of goods and people in disadvantaged communities. EDF is gratified to see these small but critical steps in the right direction, for the reasons explained in the below blog post, and will work with the commission to ensure these programs are as beneficial as possible.
New York is home to the most famous electrified transportation system in the United States. It’s true. During normal times, the New York City subway carries over 5.5 million riders on a typical workday, for a total of over 1.7 billion rides annually.
Our electric subway system clearly deserves credit for the fact that the average carbon footprint of a New York City resident is 6.1 metric tons – less than a third of the national average. Electric transportation is a climate win, and if you count the subway, the city is off to a great start.
However, New York still has a long way to go when it comes to electrifying the rest of the state’s transportation sector. Despite all those avoided car trips in the New York City metro area, transportation still accounts for 37% of the state’s total greenhouse gas footprint — a higher share of total emissions than for the U.S. as a whole (where transportation accounts for 28% of total emissions).

Thankfully, New York has a tough new climate law and a specific commitment to zero-emission passenger vehicles, with a goal of 850,000 on the street by 2025. To support this 18-fold increase in electric vehicles over a short period, the staff of New York’s Department of Public Service released a whitepaper in January, proposing a program to ensure the construction of sufficient charging infrastructure and electric grid upgrades to support this transformation.
The proposals in the whitepaper are a step in the right direction, but they fall far short of what New York needs: a plan to address the charging requirements of both passenger EVs as well as trucks and buses. Delaying any planning to address the charging needs...