New York State has some of the nation’s most ambitious climate goals as established by the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which commits New York to a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 1990 levels by 2030 and an 85% reduction by 2050. Transportation electrification is critical to achieving these goals, given that transportation is the largest source of emissions in New York State, accounting for nearly one-third. Legislation that is currently awaiting action has the potential to not only bring the state closer to meeting these ambitious goals but also encourage growth in the electrification transportation (ET) supply chain and bring jobs to the state.
Just a few weeks back, two transportation electrification bills were approved by both the Senate and the Assembly: A4302, which requires 100% of sales of new passenger cars and trucks in the state to be ZEVs by 2035 and all sales of medium and heavy-duty trucks to be ZEVs by 2045; and A3876, which requires utilities to establish a new electric vehicle charging commercial tariff. Both bills are now waiting for the Assembly to send them to Governor Cuomo’s desk. Other bills are also in front of the legislature, including one that would provide incentives to school districts for the purchase of electric school buses, another to establish a Clean Fuels Standard, and a third to open the state to the direct sale of vehicles from EV-only manufacturers. These bills could all be critical pieces of the puzzle for New York to reduce emissions, expand advanced energy, and capitalize on the state’s ET supply chain.
According to "Electrifying New York," a study prepared by BW Research Partnership for AEE, New York-based jobs in ET are projected to grow 32% by 2024, with 882 businesses already employing 4,200 workers in ET-related jobs – in all but one of the 62 counties in the state. These businesses are involved in manufacturing, wholesale distribution, retail sale, installation, research and development, maintenance, and repair of electric vehicles (EVs), plus the associated charging infrastructure and necessary component parts, such as batteries and drive system components.
The range of occupations and skill sets needed for ET work include ones not traditionally associated with automobile manufacturing, such as software and hardware engineering. This presents an opportunity for a more diverse worker pool to join this modern manufacturing workforce. The report examined adjacent industries with workforces that could easily shift to meet growing ET demand and found that there are 48,000 workers in Adjacent Manufacturing Industries that have skill sets that would allow them and the companies they work for to transition to ET-related work with relatively little training or upskilling required. These jobs could offer a lifeline in particular to workers in Secondary Adjacent Manufacturing Industries, which shed over 1,000 jobs across the state between 2014 and 2019.
There is potential for even greater growth and new job creation among the state’s ET-related workforce if the share of EVs increases. Currently, the state is expected to see a four-fold increase in EV sales between 2019 and 2024. But even a four-fold increase is not enough to meet the commitment made by Governor Cuomo to put more than 850,000 zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs) on the road by 2025. Fewer than 15,000 battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) were sold in New York in 2019. Charging infrastructure deployment is also behind where it needs to be to meet the Governor’s targets, although the Make-Ready program, which was approved by the Public Service Commission in July 2020, will provide up to $701 million in support for the rollout of electric vehicle charging infrastructure and should help make the gap smaller.
With these measures the legislature and the Governor have an opportunity to move closer to meeting already-established goals and to capitalize on an in-state supply chain that can provide well-paying jobs to New Yorkers. But to actually cross the finish line, additional legislative, executive, and regulatory actions will be necessary. Governor Cuomo and the legislature have now signaled their ambition to keep up with California in the race to electrify, and these goals will only stay within reach if the state continues to invest in its ET economy.