MASTER'S PROJECT: Mapping Electric Vehicle Impacts: Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Fuel Costs, and Energy Justice in the United States
The impact of the electric vehicle (EV) transition on household transportation energy burdens (i.e., percentage of income spent on vehicle fuels) in the U.S. is not well known. This study addresses this gap by comparing EVs to internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs) in terms of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), fuel costs, and transportation energy burden. The results indicate that over 90% of U.S. households (measured by census tract) would see some savings in both GHGs and energy burden by adopting an EV and for 60% of U.S. households these savings would be moderate to high. Savings are especially pronounced in the American West (e.g., California, Washington) and parts of the Northeast (e.g., New York) primarily due to a varying combination of cleaner electricity grids, lower electricity prices (relative to gas prices), and smaller drive-cycle and temperature related impacts on fuel efficiency. Moreover, adopting an EV would more than double the percentage of households that have low transportation energy burdens (less than 2% of income spent on fuel annually) which equates to 80% of all U.S. households. Despite significant reductions of energy burdens in most cases, over half of the lowest income households would have high EV energy burdens (greater than 4% income spent on fuel annually), and over three quarters would have high EV energy burdens if at-home charging is unavailable. Addressing this requires targeted policies to promote energy justice in lower-income communities, including subsidizing charging infrastructure, strategies to reduce electricity costs, and increasing availability to low-carbon transport modes (e.g., public transit, biking, and car sharing).