Drive Electric Minnesota Coalition Releases 2023 Legislative Priorities
March 1, 2023 | Carolyn Berninger | Policy
Minnesota’s 2023 legislative session is in full swing, and the next few months are shaping up to be action packed. Legislators have already introduced thousands of bills, including multiple aimed at increasing transportation electrification in Minnesota. This session, Drive Electric Minnesota is advocating for policies to jump-start Minnesota’s electric vehicle (EV) market and increase access to EV charging infrastructure.
Advancing the deployment of EVs and EV infrastructure in Minnesota would generate benefits across the state, including reduced transportation costs, cleaner air, and greater energy independence.
State-level investments would also complement federal funding available through the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This would ensure that Minnesotans benefit as much as possible from federal investments. These federal investments, combined with the state’s budget surplus, provide Minnesota with a unique window of opportunity to invest in transportation electrification.
As we work to pass supportive EV policy in Minnesota, we are thankful for the ongoing advocacy efforts of our coalition members. The policy statements below reflect member priorities for the 2023 legislative session and are supported by the following members:
Alliance for Transportation Electrification ChargePoint City of Minneapolis Connexus Energy Elk River Municipal Utilities Fresh Energy Great River Energy Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association Minnesota Rural Electric Association Otter Tail Power Plug In America Shift2Electric Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association Xcel Energy
- Drive Electric Minnesota supports rebate programs and other financial incentives that increase EV sales until the technology matures and upfront costs come down. One barrier preventing increased EV adoption is the higher upfront purchase price of EVs, despite much lowerlifetime fuel and maintenance costs. According to data from the Electrification Coalition’s State EV Policy Dashboard, 26 states have vehicle purchase incentives in place. These incentives include tax credits, sales tax relief, and rebates. Studies of similar policies in other states and countries make clear that this approach is effective in increasing EV sales.
- Drive Electric Minnesota supports legislation that promotes transportation electrification investment by electric utilities and the private sector. Electric utilities are well poised to support increased transportation electrification and integration of EVs into the electric system to benefit all their customers. For example, utilities can support the deployment of charging infrastructure through make-ready programs, provide a variety of rate options depending on their customers’ needs, and stimulate EV investments in underserved communities.
- Drive Electric Minnesota supports the state providing the matching funds necessary to maximize the benefits the state receives through federal transportation electrification investments, including the Inflation Reduction Act, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and other federal programs. Recent federal legislation will lead to significant investments in transportation electrification. These investments will create jobs, reduce household transportation costs, improve air quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Many of these federal investments require matching funds, which the state can provide.
- Drive Electric Minnesota supports comprehensive solutions to roadway funding challenges and the calculation of fair vehicle taxes that consider the higher fuel efficiencies of EVs and fairly treat EVs relative to conventional vehicles. According to an analysis by the Great Plains Institute, EV drivers contribute more to the Highway User Tax Distribution Fund than drivers of equivalent gas cars. This is due to the existing $75 annual EV tax plus EVs’ higher registration and motor vehicle taxes from higher upfront purchase prices. Over-taxing EVs today discourages adoption and slows market development. Additionally, a flat surcharge does not reflect the higher fuel efficiency of EVs. Furthermore, evidence suggests that improving the fuel efficiency of conventional vehicles is a far greater contributor to declining gas tax revenue than EVs. To address concerns related to ongoing funding for Minnesota’s roads and bridges and ensure that solutions address the real root causes, a comprehensive study by the Office of the Legislative Auditor would help identify potential paths forward.
- Drive Electric Minnesota supports legislation and state agency efforts to increase the deployment of electric school and transit buses. Electric school and transit buses benefit communities throughout the state by reducing emissions, lowering fuel and maintenance costs, and improving air quality. The EV manufacturing industry—including electric bus manufacturing at New Flyer facilities in St. Cloud and Crookston—also contributes to job creation and economic benefits in Minnesota. However, electric buses cost almost four times more than diesel buses, and current funding for electric buses is limited. State support for electric bus deployment would also complement federal funding from the Inflation Reduction Act.
- Drive Electric Minnesota supports state investments in making public EV charging stations available to all Minnesotans. EV charging infrastructure is critical to reduce range anxiety and accelerate transportation electrification. Federal funding for EV charging is being made available to states through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program, which requires securing a 20 percent match. This is an area where the state can step in and ensure that Minnesotans receive the maximum benefit of the program. Minnesota must be prepared to utilize federal funding and make additional complementary investments.
- Drive Electric Minnesota supports legislation that ensures Minnesotans with disabilities can access electricity as a transportation fuel. As more EV charging infrastructure is built in the coming years, it will be increasingly important to ensure that charging stations are accessible and usable by individuals with disabilities.
- Drive Electric Minnesota supports legislation and efforts by state and local governments to increase EV adoption in their fleets. EVs generate economic benefits for state fleets through reduced fuel and maintenance costs. Recognizing the benefits of fleet electrification and reduced fossil fuel use, Minnesota has adopted goals to reduce the state fleet’s fossil fuel consumption by 30 percent and to electrify 20 percent of the state’s vehicles. By purchasing EVs for fleets, state and local governments can move the needle toward accomplishing these goals. Additionally, having EVs on the state contract supports EV availability at more dealerships and makes it easier for local governments to procure EVs.
- Drive Electric Minnesota supports continued regional collaboration with the private sector, utilities, and Midwestern states to complete EV charging corridors, including the efforts of the Regional Electric Vehicle Midwest Coalition. To increase transportation electrification in the state and provide convenient travel to neighboring states, Drive Electric Minnesota recognizes the critical roles that EV charging corridors can play in enabling travel throughout the region and beyond Minnesota’s borders.
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