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Report | 2022

Electric Mobility for All

A Feasibility Study of Electric Transportation Options for Low- to Moderate-Income Residents in Connecticut

By  Aradhana GahlautEdward J. Klock-McCookBen Shapiro
Download the report below

Motivated largely by concerns over global greenhouse gas emissions, the transportation sector is focusing increasingly on a transition to zero-emissions vehicles. For this transition to be successful, not only from a climate but also from an equity perspective, specific consideration of low- to moderate-income (LMI) communities is critical.

Residents in these communities often are affected disproportionately by poor air quality, health issues, and lack of quality access to transportation, and therefore stand to benefit the most from reductions in tailpipe emissions. However, these residents are also less likely to benefit from personal EVs because of the current cost premium of these options, as well as challenges accessing charging infrastructure.

Electric Mobility for All is a feasibility study built to identify solutions that will share the benefits of transportation electrification with a broader range of Connecticut’s residents. For this study, the authors developed models of how these solutions could be designed, funded, and implemented, with findings that are useful in Connecticut and more broadly for other jurisdictions aiming to explore innovative electric mobility programs for their residents. This report summarizes RMI’s process, key learnings, and recommendations on how electric utilities and other stakeholders in Connecticut and other states can best support the development of equitable electric mobility programs.

Summary Program Design Recommendations
Category Design Consideration Recommendations
Equity and Inclusion Community Engagement & Collaboration
  • Partner with community-based organizations, and include community members in a needs assessment and design discussions from the beginning
  • Continue ongoing dialgue with communities throughout scoping, design, implementation, and ongoing operations.
Accessibility & Enabling Technologies
  • Create fare payment options for unbanked populations, such as prepaid fare cards which can be purchased with cash
  • Provide alternatives to smart phone apps for requesting rides or unlocking vehicles, such as maintaining dial-in dispatch options and on-site micromobility kiosks
  • Tie fare discounts to existing programs to streamline the application process and improve the LMI user experience
Accommodations for All Passengers
  • Ensure that historic portfolio of electric mobility options includes vehicles that can accommodate LMI residents with various levels of physical abilities
Program Development Program Leadership
  • Identify clear program coordinator early in the process
Program Cost Development
  • Issue centralized requests for information to identify specific costs and vendors who can provide services to multiple programs
  • Consider centralizing procurement to maximize cost savings
Staffing
  • Dedicate sufficient resources to support new LMI programs, which often require significant staff time commitments
Funding
  • Take advantage of federal and other funding opportunities as much as possible to reduce total program costs and maintain affordable rates; especially important for securing upfront capital costs
  • Program coordinators should work with all project partners to put forth a compelling application that highlights the strengths and range of anticipated benefits of the program
Siting
  • Identify sites that will meet charging needs for the program, do not require large electrical upgrades, and provide convenience for LMI users of the program
  • For carshare and micromobility programs, multiunit housing developments in neighborhoods with large LMI populations are a good option
  • For microtransit services, city transit facilities close to or within LMI communities are the best choice, especially if excess electrical capacity makes installation of electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) more streamlined

The exhibit above describes many of the critical components of developing electric mobility programs that successfully center equity and improve transportation options. Electric utilities in particular have a critical role to play in supporting these programs, and the report recommends a number of mechanisms through which they can do so, as summarized in the table below.

EDC Support for LMI Electric Mobility Programs
Category Support Mechanisms
Program Administration and Operations
  • Facilitation of requests for information and/or bundled procurement to secure affordable services and assets
  • Technical assistance for program coordinators to efficiently develop actionable mobility options electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) siting support to identify low-cost locations
  • EVSE siting support to identify low-cost locations
  • Interconnection application support and process streamlining
  • Grant funding application and/or support to help secure finances
Capital Expenditures
  • Increased make-ready and EVSE investment to reduce capital costs
  • Vehicle rebates for LMI programs to reduce upfront investment need
Rate Design
  • Providing electricity rates that allow for affordable operation of EVs for mobility programs and avoid cost-prohibitive demand charges
  • Grid services opportunities such as managed charging or vehicle-to-grid programs that can help offset the operating costs of electric mobility programs by providing a revenue stream or defraying electricity costs