Arizona’s Electric Valley is accelerating the transition to electric vehicles

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8:07 AM, Apr 28, 2023
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Three local mayors who are part of the “Electric Valley,” a growing hub that attracts electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers and suppliers, are preparing for an increase in EVs in a collaborative effort with fellow Transportation Electrification Activator partners.

“We have real challenges with air quality,” according to Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, “and we can address these challenges while improving our transportation system and creating good-paying jobs.”

“To achieve cleaner air, and to mitigate the impacts of climate change, we must move away from gasoline and toward cleaner electricity,” said Tempe Mayor Corey Woods. “We have the opportunity to be national leaders in EV research, manufacturing, and job creation,” said Mesa Mayor John Giles. That’s why Woods, Gallego, and Giles have come together in an effort to increase the use of electric vehicles in The Valley.

Health and climate benefits

EVs operate with large batteries that power electric motors instead of internal combustion engines and, therefore, don’t burn fossil fuels. This eliminates the tail pipe emissions that cause air pollution and have a negative impact on our health. “EVs will significantly reduce air pollutants that are known to contribute to heart disease, stroke, low birth weight and adult-onset asthma,” said Woods. According to a report released by TE Activator member, American Lung Association, a transition to zero-emissions vehicles could result in 1,360 fewer premature deaths and $15.1 billion in public health benefits for Arizonans due to cleaner air between now and 2050.

EVs can have a large impact on climate change as well. The EPA reports that transportation accounts for about 27% of total US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, making it the largest contributor to GHG emissions in the US. On average, EVs produce less than half the global warming emissions during their lifecycle compared to a similar gasoline vehicle, according to the EPA. Transportation electrification offers an opportunity to reduce GHG emissions significantly. The benefits of EVs are expected to continue to grow as the electric grid continues to use more renewable energy and EV technology becomes more efficient. The Valley’s biggest power providers, SRP and APS are preparing for the energy demands of EV charging while also making progress on reducing CO2 emissions generated per MWh.


The Electric Valley has already made strides when it comes to electrification:

· Many residents are already embracing EV ownership: Arizona ranks seventh in nationwide electric vehicle registrations, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

· The City of Phoenix has a fleet of 18 EVs with 19 on order for 2023. This includes the city’s first electric pickup trucks and two garbage trucks. The city already has over 200 chargers.

· The City of Tempe has a fleet of 23 EVs and will add 11 in the next year. It has 32 fleet chargers and 10 designated for public use.

The City of Mesa is preparing for the delivery of 56 electric fleet vehicles and the Valley’s first electric fire trucks. The city has public charging at downtown city facilities, including the Mesa Arts Center, Convention Center and Main Library and recently installed four chargers specifically for city employees.

Expanding infrastructure

Establishing EV infrastructure with public access to chargers is critical to transitioning from gasoline-powered vehicles to plug-in vehicles. The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes several transportation electrification initiatives, including building a national EV charging network along highway corridors to make long-distance travel easier. In addition, there is a lot of work being done to increase charging options in rural areas and for people who live in apartments.

“We’ve got a gas station on every corner,” Giles said in a Sonoran Living interview. “We need to start including charging stations in the public right away, so that’s something that local governments certainly need to be involved in.”

The City of Phoenix offers a charging guide that lists station locations at libraries, parks, and the zoo, Gallego said in the interview.

Electrification goals

Arizona Public Service, Arizona State University, Salt River Project, and multiple TE Activator partners are collaborating to increase electrification, with cities of Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa setting these goals:

Phoenix is planning to:

· Have 200 EVs in its fleet by 2030.

· Purchase electric and hydrogen fuel cell buses through a $229 million Green Transit Technology contract in the next four years.

· Convert its heavy-duty transit fleet to 100% zero emissions by 2040.

Tempe is planning to:

· Triple the number of public chargers by 2025.

· Convert light-duty vehicles in its fleet to EVs by 2035.

· Create a roadmap of public charger locations.

Mesa is:

· Working with their electric utility to plan for more EVs on the road and preparing for the energy demand of charging.

· Proud to have Mesa-based Exro Technologies and Urbix Resources developing technology to support EVs locally

“We are starting to see real change occur,” according to Woods “We must remember that we’re at the beginning of the EV revolution. As they increase in popularity, the technology and infrastructure will develop and improve too.”

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