Arizona Corporation Commission approves electric vehicle adoption plan

Electric and autonomous vehicles are rolling out more aggressively in Arizona with the rise of auto tech startups here in Arizona. From ride-sharing options like Waymo to full-scale commercial trucking companies hitting the highways, self-driving vehicles are the way of the future. And one step towards that future is plugging electric vehicles into our every day commuting.

One agency that’s helping with that push is the Arizona Corporation Commission, which voted last month to approve a plan to develop electric vehicle infrastructure in the state.

Adopting electric vehicle use in the state isn’t necessarily as easy as buying EVs and getting them out on the road. There has to be a complete overhaul of transportation infrastructure and utilities if electric vehicles are to be folded in on a greater scale.

“I’ve always felt that you need to be out in front and be a leader in this area,” Commissioner Boyd Dunn said. “The purpose of the policy is to make sure we’re out there addressing the infrastructure needs so that people out in Arizona will have charging stations where they can move around the state.”

A concern in the Commission’s original plan spoke to development of electric vehicle infrastructure in Arizona so drivers can rely on ample charging stations. Last August, Dunn requested a docket be opened on his inquiry into the infrastructure around electric vehicles and the electrification of the transportation sector in Arizona before developing an implementation plan for the policy this May.

The plan, according to Dunn, was created to provide an outline to corporations that are regulated by the Commission on how to bring the plan to life in Arizona and get people on board in a more seamless way compared to urging people to buy EVs and putting up a few charging stations here and there. Factors such as infrastructure, education, outreach, and rate design were all included in the plan.

“The key is that you need to build the infrastructure so this sort of thing happens. We want the utilities to come out with pilot programs to focus on the infrastructure and handle locations for charging stations and come out with outreach and education,” Dunn said.

Approved on July 1, the plan includes a layout of potential locations for charging stations and incentives or rebates for EV drivers. Groups, such as Southwest Energy Efficiency Project Arizona, Western Resource Advocates, and Wildfire Arizona, have already given high praise to the plan and hope to encourage more support behind it.

“This decision clearly sends a signal that Arizona is ready to get serious about transportation electrification,” Ellen Zuckerman of Southwest Energy said in a statement. The group believes that a plan like this can end up saving Arizona customers billions of dollars over time as well as improve air quality.

Photo courtesy of Nikola Motor Company

Nick Esquer

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