A Big Tent, With Room For Many

In transformations this large, it’s natural for numerous groups to emerge, each pushing their own agenda, sometimes at the expense of the greater good. To prevent this, the Alliance unites the electrification movement’s diverse interests under one roof, to find better ways to collaborate, compromise and build consensus. We bring together energy companies, utilities, auto and truck makers, EV service providers and non-governmental organizations to jointly address opportunities and obstacles in technology, policy and regulation.

Our goal is to expand this collaboration into work with governments and quasi-government agencies along with still other organizations and firms in the EV space. This is especially important with state-level elected officials and decision makers, with whom we try to find areas of common ground—often a challenging task as the rapidly growing EV industry faces incumbent interests. Unless we present a united front, showing broad agreement, policymakers may delay necessary actions. United we stand, divided we fall.

Our work in the States begins with the public utility commissions (PUCs) who wield great authority over the utilities and infrastructure providers within their states. We seek to minimize litigation in planning’s early stages, arguing instead for more policy-based workshops and proceedings in which common understandings may emerge which can set the stage for later formal filings by utilities. Although the Alliance recognizes the importance of due process and the right to state cases forcefully with counsel, we also believe that excessive litigation at the outset is not a good model for an emerging industry like EVs, where a great deal of education of commissions, state agencies, and stakeholders needs to occur early.

When utility litigation does occur, we often advocate for multi-party settlements instead of fully litigated orders. This leads to development of best practices that can be useful in EV infrastructure deployments in other states and local communities. We recognize that one-size-does-not-fit-all because each state’s regulatory and policy climate is different, and Commissioners must make decisions based on specific cases and evidence presented to them in a proceeding.

We work in similarly inclusive, consensus-finding fashion with state environmental agencies, state transportation departments, state energy offices, local transportation agencies, governors, mayors, county executives, and others. Although it is messy and difficult to coordinate among multiple state agencies, we believe that a broad and robust stakeholder process is vital for ultimate success.

With state legislatures, we try to make the most of the expertise that long-established committees and interests bring, helping each of these define their “swim lane” and the tasks that best suit them, and working to avoid duplication of effort.

It has also become increasingly evident that we need to prioritize underserved neighborhoods disproportionally impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and by past decisions in siting transportation and utility infrastructure. Similarly, we seek to engage with rural communities left out of advances in high-speed broadband, new energy technologies, and now the emerging trend toward EVs and reliable, high-voltage charging stations.

The Alliance believes a rising tide lifts all boats. Hence, we argue for the benefits of the collective ecosystem, seeking collaboration and common ground. Although the EV field is bursting with diverse start-up firms, legacy manufacturers, utilities and NGOs, each with its own viewpoint, the Alliance sees many more points of agreement than differences. In approaching state and local government agencies and officials, we believe it is far better to be united than divided.