Electrification plan leaves low-income Nevadans behind
The focus mainly on highway corridor EV charging does not directly benefit low-wealth residents, and cuts out programs focused on low-income benefits. (Photo: Ronda Churchill/Nevada Current)
The Nevada Public Utilities Commission’s recent decision on funding for NV Energy’s Transportation Electrification Plan (TEP) is a significant blow to equity and environmental justice in the state.
The state legislature requires NV Energy, the state’s largest electric utility, to outline how it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector. For this plan, the legislature called for benefits for low-income and underserved Nevadans. However, when reviewing the plan, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission turned their backs on the legislature’s request and restricted NV Energy’s plan. The commission told NV Energy to focus mainly on highway corridor EV charging––something that does not directly benefit low-wealth residents––and cut out programs focused on low-income benefits.
Low-income families will pay for this plan but not see the benefits locally. Low-income communities spend a larger portion of their income on energy bills and deserve the benefits of clean energy technologies, like electric buses and charging stations near them.
The extreme climate in Nevada severely strains low-income households that struggle to afford rising electric bills and face environmental health conditions like asthma. EVs can offer a cheaper, cleaner alternative to gas cars, providing financial relief for people to invest in energy efficiency or weatherizing their homes.
Moreover, the absence of robust public transportation and peoples’ over-reliance on ride-share services and private gas-powered cars contributes to climate change and air quality issues. Electrifying personal vehicles and adding electric public buses are crucial for reducing the use of cars to limit air pollution and protect public health. The abandonment of historically underserved communities in the TEP will exacerbate disparities from polluting transportation and will ultimately slow the state’s transition to electric vehicles.
The Commission’s decision to reduce funding for historically underserved communities clearly violates environmental justice and equity principles. It perpetuates a history of injustice and systemic inequality by not investing in communities that need investment in infrastructure and other economic development opportunities. Like all states in the nation, Nevada must prioritize the needs of its most vulnerable communities and ensure equal access to clean energy technologies to promote a more equitable future and combat climate change.
The Commission must reconsider its decision and provide adequate funding, outreach, and programs for historically underserved communities to transition to electric transportation. Nevada must promote equitable access to clean energy and climate justice for all its residents, regardless of income, race, or residence. Anything less would be a gross injustice and betray our shared commitment to a sustainable and just future.
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