Electric vehicles

Adopted January 26, 2012

Electric vehicles have the potential to revolutionize automotive efficiency, but they face hurdles to becoming mainstream. From July 2011 to January 2012, Fresh Energy convened a stakeholder group to evaluate those hurdles and identify practical policy solutions. The group included high-level voices from Minnesota’s automotive, utility, and renewable energy sectors, along with Fresh Energy board members and policy experts. Below are the group’s policy statements, as adopted by Fresh Energy’s Board of Directors.


Electric Vehicles (EV) will only reach their full potential with the support of smart public policy. The benefits of widespread EV deployment justify the investment of public time and resources to support the transition to EVs. Smart public policy can help minimize barriers to a successful transition to EVs, speed the transition to EVs, address any potential challenges that EV deployment presents, and maximize the benefits of EV deployment.

In the Midwest, state-level policy should:

  • Focus on creating an effective framework to support the market-driven transition to EVs.
  • Create a formal process for ongoing state-level EV coordination across relevant public entities.
  • Align utility policy to enable and support electric vehicles.
    • Make changes if necessary to ensure that the necessary utility investments can be made to support EV charging.
      • Direct state utility regulators to recognize the transportation-sector benefits of building EV load (including oil displacement and reduced air and climate pollution).
      • Allow electric utilities to recover reasonable costs for distribution upgrades necessary to enable workplace and home charging.
      • Ensure that existing energy-conservation and renewable-energy programs enable EV-related investments without altering the intent of those programs.
    • Create incentives to promote off-peak charging by owners of EVs and charging stations, to reduce impacts on peak electricity demand and utilize nighttime wind generation capacity.
    • Create incentives to promote utility notification, which will help preserve grid stability.
    • Create consumer options to maximize the potential connection between EVs and renewable energy.
    • Make fuel cost savings and emission benefits visible to EV owners and the public.
  • Encourage buying, driving, insuring, and re-charging EVs by making regulatory changes, as needed, to overcome any market barriers and enable a variety of potential private-sector models for the EV system.
  • Provide and encourage the use of non-financial incentives to promote the purchase and everyday use of EVs.
  • Promote the near-term incorporation of EVs into public and private fleets.
  • Support sensible public investments in EV charging stations, while allowing the private sector to be the primary driver. Charging stations should be prioritized in the order of: (1) homes (including multifamily and those without a garage) and fleet operators; (2) workplaces; and (3) high-volume destinations.
  • As necessary in the long term, create new mechanisms for transportation system funding to replace any loss in overall transportation revenues due to improved vehicle fuel efficiency.
  • As technology and the market matures, support and encourage sensible use of charging and vehicle-to-grid services that maximize the value of EV batteries to individual EV owners and society overall.
  • If future state-level purchase incentives are considered, those incentives should be designed to maximize measurable state-level economic benefits, oil displacement, and air pollution reductions.

At the national level, the federal government should:

  • Fully implement the proposed federal 2017-2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.
  • Phase out subsidies on oil exploration, production, transportation, refining, and consumption.
  • Phase in a policy to incorporate the external costs of oil (e.g. national security, economic volatility, health, and climate costs) into fuel prices, enabling the market to drive innovation to reduce those costs.
  • To avoid disruption of the market, the federal government should maintain the current phase-out schedule for electric-vehicle tax credits and funding for advanced battery research and development.
  • Any future EV policy should be designed to increase the share of automobiles that are electric and maximize the overall public benefits of vehicle electrification.
  • As necessary in the long term, create new mechanisms for transportation system funding to replace any loss in overall transportation revenues due to improved vehicle fuel efficiency.