In the midst of a summer in the West filled with rising gasoline prices and downed power lines due to wildfires and monsoons, the advancement of electric vehicles has taken a back seat to these emergency situations. The Desert Southwest, however, has made some significant EV advancements that have flown under the radar.
While Nevada and New Mexico have different approaches to incorporating electric vehicles in their markets, both states have recognized the power of public and private partnerships in creating a clean-car environment. A roundup of recent activity in both states demonstrates their growing commitment to the electric-vehicle space.
NV Energy Backs EV Charging Infrastructure
On Sept. 1, NV Energy filed with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada two plans aimed at meeting requirements for Nevada's new sustainable energy economy as detailed in SB 448, which Gov. Steve Sisolak signed in early June (see CEM No. 1646).
In NV Energy's Economic Recovery Transportation Electrification Plan, strategic guidance is set for implementing the five charging-infrastructure programs addressed in SB 448: An interstate corridor charging program; an urban charging depot program; a public-agency EV charging program; a transit, school bus and transportation-electrification custom program; and an outdoor recreation and tourism program.
"We look forward to our continued and expanded partnerships within our communities to ensure that all Nevadans can participate in the clean energy economy and benefit from the environmental and economic benefits of transportation electrification," NV Energy President and CEO Doug Cannon said in a news release. "We appreciate [state leadership] developing innovative ways to drive Nevada's long-term economic recovery while achieving the state's important sustainability goals and bringing clean energy to all Nevadans."
Initially focused on the state's popular tourism sites in Las Vegas, Reno and now-fire-ravaged Lake Tahoe, the development of public charging infrastructure is now taking place in the rural eastern part of the state as well. The goal is to implement a reliable, low-cost infrastructure for the public that is easily accessible for both residents and tourists.
To further show support for the long-term benefits of electric vehicles, NV Energy has also introduced a proposal to support EV implementation in public transportation, which includes an innovative electric school bus vehicle-to-grid pilot program.
NV Energy's filing of its Transmission Infrastructure for a Clean Energy Economy Plan is part of its 2021 integrated resource plan, currently under review by the PUCN. The plan introduces Greenlink North, a high-voltage transmission line that would run from Ely, Nevada, to Yerington, Nevada, to be completed by December 2028. Greenlink West, a high-voltage transmission line that runs from Las Vegas to Yerington, has already received approval from the PUCN and is scheduled for completion in December 2026 (see CEM No. 1634).
Albuquerque and EVs
In New Mexico, the City of Albuquerque is taking the lead in EV adoption, with two significant actions this summer demonstrating its commitment to the changing transportation landscape.
In late July, the city launched a new Electrified Dealer Program to increase both efficiency in the EV purchasing process and the number of EV purchases in the market. The program allows local car dealers to access special training and educational materials.
Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller has led the charge on implementing EVs, including winning a $2.7-million federal grant to bring the first electric buses to Albuquerque. Although only a handful of dealerships have currently signed up, the mayor anticipates long-term success with the program.
"We know that the future of the auto industry is electric and low-emission vehicles," Keller said in a statement announcing the program. "It is important for Albuquerque to be a part of that change."
Dealerships participating in the program receive one hour of training twice a year to learn how to engage with prospective buyers, how charging stations work, and what local EV resources are available. All participating dealerships must have an inventory of electric vehicles on their showroom floor, along with home charging systems. To ensure results, dealerships must share monthly sales data with the city, and in return the dealerships will receive recognition on the City of Albuquerque website, as well as be a part of co-branding opportunities and marketing and promotional materials.
Less than a month later, in late July, the city hosted a ribbon-cutting for 18 new EV charging stations across the city. The new charging stations were developed in partnership with Paradise Power Company Inc., which installed all of the stations. The installation more than doubled the city's current number of EV charging stations, bringing the current total to 34.
"We made sure to meet people where they were at, in shopping centers and other locations we know they spend time in," City of Albuquerque Sustainability Officer Kelsey Rader said in a public statement the day of the ribbon-cutting ceremony. "We are making sure these chargers are located in every area of the city. Being equitable in our access is the best way to combat climate change."
Facilities across the city were selected based on a variety of criteria, including distance to major roadways and highways, shopping and major attractions. Public areas like libraries, a museum, a golf course and multigenerational centers were also selected. The installations also filled in service gaps along U.S. Interstate 40, Paseo del Norte and U.S. Interstate 25.
"By helping to fund the electric vehicle charging infrastructure we are working to make low- and zero-emission vehicles more accessible to New Mexicans," New Mexico Environment Department Secretary James Kenney said in a public statement.
The new charging stations are supported by grant funds from the New Mexico state-managed Volkswagen Settlement Fund.