Zero-Emission Vehicles in Northeast States


Click for bid opportunitiesEditor’s note: In May 2014, Small Business Exchange Northeast included an article about the Multi-State Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Task Force established in 2013. Eight states began the program, which now includes two more states. Most of the northeastern states are participating among the ten: California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The task force has developed an action plan that participating states are currently pursuing in various ways. The following is an overview of the action plan published by the task force.
On October 24, 2013, the governors of California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) committing to coordinated action to ensure the successful implementation of their state zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) programs. ZEVs include pure battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). Collectively, these states are committed to having at least 3.3 million ZEVs operating on their roadways by 2025. The MOU identifies joint cooperative actions the signatory states will undertake, and additional actions that individual jurisdictions are considering, to build a robust market for ZEVs.
Vermont ZEVThe signatory governors created a multi-state ZEV Program Implementation Task Force and called for the development of this action plan. The task force, composed of state officials, serves as a forum for coordination and collaboration on the full range of program development, support, and implementation issues to promote effective and efficient implementation of ZEV regulatory initiatives. NESCAUM, a nonprofit association of state environmental agencies, serves as the facilitator and provides technical and policy assistance to the task force.
This multi-state ZEV action plan provides additional detail and specificity to the commitments in the MOU and is intended to assist in developing consistent and complementary measures within and across our states to foster efficient market development and maximize the ownership experience for consumers. It identifies priority actions intended to promote and accommodate market growth consistent with ZEV sales requirements and includes a research agenda to inform future actions. This plan is designed to guide interstate coordination and advise state-specific action. It is not intended to provide a uniform pathway for all states to follow. Each state will promote ZEV market growth in ways that best address its own needs and advantage its unique opportunities.

While this document targets the needs of states with ZEV programs, many of the proposed actions could be implemented in other jurisdictions. In the interest of promoting a strong national market for plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and FCEVs, other states and municipalities are encouraged to consider the measures contained in this plan.
The governors’ MOU acknowledges the key role states will play in promoting ZEV market preparation and growth, and this plan identifies specific actions to help achieve those goals. However, states must rely on the automobile manufacturers, car dealers, the electric vehicle supply equipment industry, electricity providers, and others to: (1) produce, market, and sell desirable vehicles; (2) identify the right business model(s) and build out a viable fueling infrastructure; and (3) ensure that competitively priced fuels are available for ZEVs. Therefore, this plan identifies a series of partnership opportunities among states and key stakeholders that are critical to market acceleration.

The action plan builds on work already underway in the MOU signatory states. California’s leadership has been instrumental to the advancement of zero-emission vehicle technologies. NESCAUM has supported state adoption and implementation of the California low-emission vehicle standards for more than two decades, helped launch the multi-state ZEV initiative, and will coordinate implementation efforts among the states. In addition to the individual efforts of the MOU states, which are described in more detail below and highlighted throughout this action plan, through the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, along with the District of Columbia, have worked together to strengthen their state programs and develop regional initiatives. With research and program support from the Georgetown Climate Center, TCI has undertaken foundational work on many of the specific action items identified in this plan and will continue to be a key player in implementing them.

Since the release of the governors’ ZEV MOU, the multistate ZEV Program Implementation Task Force has reached out to key stakeholders to inform this action plan. The task force met with representatives from sixteen automobile manufacturers and their trade associations for a two-day workshop in November 2013 to discuss key actions necessary to build a viable market for increasing numbers of ZEVs. An outcome of that meeting was the creation of workgroups composed of state and automobile industry representatives to develop recommendations to inform this action plan. Similarly, the states solicited input from electricity providers, public utility and service commissions, charging infrastructure providers, academic partners, and the nonprofit community through a workshop in February 2014. Many recommendations from those discussions are reflected in this plan. The participating states thank all of these groups and individuals for their input and insights, and anticipate significant ongoing engagement with these partners.
A strong market of “early adopters” interested in pioneering innovative technology is already building demand in our states. Achieving future program sales targets will require creating a broader consumer base. The actions identified in this plan are intended to increase awareness and maximize the benefits of ZEV ownership.
The Multi-State ZEV Action Plan includes four sections: (1) this overview; (2) a summary of the current state of the ZEV market; (3) priority state actions; and (4) a research agenda and proposed stakeholder partnerships.

Ten states (the eight MOU states plus Maine and New Jersey), representing twenty-eight percent of the automobile market in the United States, have embarked on an ambitious effort to revolutionize the transportation sector by requiring increasing sales of zero-emission vehicles under the auspices of the California low-emission vehicle (LEV) program. The annual sales requirements in state programs are modest at the outset, but increase over time, anticipating that demand will expand as consumers become more familiar with a growing range of continually improving ZEV products. By 2025, about fifteen percent of new vehicles sold in the participating states will be required to be ZEVs.

LEV programs, authorized by the federal Clean Air Act, have been a critical component of states’ air quality improvement plans for many years, and have been a major contributor to the successful commercialization of hybrid-electric vehicles and ultra-low-emission technologies. The ZEV component of the program provides manufacturers substantial flexibility through mechanisms such as credit banking and trading, alternative compliance options, cross-state credit pooling, and by allowing manufacturers to develop their preferred compliance strategy using FCEVs, BEVs, PHEVs, or some combination of these technologies.

The market demand created by these state programs can further lower ZEV costs through economies of scale and help expand the range of product lines available to consumers. Accelerating the ZEV market will help states protect public health and the environment by reducing transportation-related air pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and will enhance energy diversity, save consumers money, and promote economic growth.
ZEVs operating in electric mode have no direct emissions. The overall air quality and GHG benefits of ZEVs compared to conventional gasoline and diesel vehicles are a function of the source of the electricity or hydrogen they use as fuel and the inherently high efficiency of ZEV powertrains. All ZEV MOU states have standards or goals to increase the amount of electricity supplied from renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, hydro, biomass, and geothermal. The growth of low- and zero-emission sources of electricity will increase the environmental benefits of electric vehicles over time. Similarly, the increased use of cleaner feedstocks and continued advances in production processes are expected to further enhance the environmental benefits of hydrogen as a transportation fuel.

In 2012, the annual cost of gasoline for the average family in the United States was $2,850. For the first time, gasoline costs exceeded the cost of owning a vehicle (including loan payments, maintenance, repairs and insurance). On average, electricity costs about one-third as much as gasoline or diesel on a per-mile basis. That gap is expected to widen over time, with oil prices projected to rise as global demand increases while electricity prices are expected to remain relatively stable. Expanding choice in vehicle technology and fuels can help lower the cost of transportation for individuals and businesses, as ZEVs already have a lower cost of ownership than comparable conventional vehicles for many households.

ZEVs will enhance energy security, diversity, and reliability by reducing our dependence on petroleum products for transportation fuel. Gasoline and diesel currently account for about ninety-five percent of transportation fuel for cars and trucks in the United States. Nearly ninety-nine percent of passenger cars are fueled by gasoline or a gasoline and ethanol blend. ZEV programs will help reduce vulnerability to price swings in the international petroleum market by diversifying the transportation fuel supply and enhancing consumer choice. The heavy reliance on imported petroleum for transportation fuel results in an outflow of billions of dollars from our states. Investing that money instead in our states’ economies will have a positive multiplier effect on jobs, personal income, and gross state product.

2017 update: There are currently more than 16,000 electric charging stations in the United States, including more than 2,100 in the eight Northeast states—302 in Connecticut, 106 in Maine, 487 in Massachusetts, 78 in New Hampshire, 210 in New Jersey, 767 in New York, 81 in Rhode Island, and 159 in Vermont. Visit the locator map and plan your trip at

For more information on the Multi-State ZEV Task Force, including more details of the action plan and state initiatives, please visit

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