Unlocking Just Transportation Electrification: Addressing Barriers and Promoting Access in Underserved Communities

Posted May 30, 2023

Announcing the Publication of ILLUME’s New Whitepaper and ArcGIS StoryMap

Transportation electrification (TE) has emerged as a crucial decarbonization strategy in the fight against climate change. States, particularly California, are leading the way in transitioning to emissions-free transportation. In September 2022, California’s Governor issued Executive Order N-79-20, directing that all new passenger vehicles and trucks sold in the state be electric by 2035. While TE presents immense benefits, the equitable distribution of these benefits is vital to ensure a just transition. In ILLUME’s newly published whitepaper and ArcGIS StoryMap, we explore the barriers to equitable TE and propose strategies to enhance electric vehicle (EV) access in Black and Brown Communities.

Our whitepaper and StoryMap feature a case study on KIGT, a Los Angeles-based African American and independently owned electric vehicle infrastructure servicing equipment (EVSE) company. Their mission is to “ensure that EV Charging is more accessible, affordable, and clean.” The recommendations in this paper are based on KIGT’s experiences. The recommendations in the whitepaper and StoryMap are generalizable to other small/midsize firms owned by people of color.

Understanding Inequities and Barriers

TE offers promising opportunities for both communities and TE-related companies. Utility and government agencies are implementing electrification incentive programs to encourage EV adoption. However, not all stakeholders are equally positioned to participate in these programs and realize the associated benefits. Historical biases and structural barriers have contributed to inequities in TE, hindering access and opportunities for marginalized communities.

“Without targeted interventions aimed at serving Black and Brown communities, TE will replicate the same market characteristics as the general economy, and Black and Brown communities will have less access to lifestyle-enhancing amenities and public works.”

Recommendations for a Just Transition

Our whitepaper provides actionable recommendations for policymakers, regulators, and program designers to unlock the potential of TE across all markets and communities.

By addressing the identified barriers, we can create a more inclusive and equitable transition. Here are some key solutions proposed:

  • Systematically review program requirements to reduce undue burdens on emerging suppliers
  • Modify cost-benefit models to address underlying needs
  • Tailor incentives to address EV deserts and partner for accelerated progress
  • Prioritize community-based or focused developers

Our StoryMap illustrates the obstacles KIGT has encountered while serving Black and Brown communities in South Los Angeles. We illuminate the necessary actions for utilities and regulators to take to ensure a just energy transition that benefits all communities. Most importantly, we center the experience of those most impacted by the environmental harms of our energy industry through an interactive multimedia application.

By adopting these solutions, we can create a just transition to TE, ensuring that all communities, regardless of their background or socioeconomic status, can benefit from the opportunities it offers. We welcome your feedback and encourage open dialogue to drive meaningful change in transportation electrification.