Stan Cross leads electric transportation policy and utility reform efforts across the Southeast for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
As gas prices continue to soar, companies are drilling down on policies regarding electric vehicles. Our reliance on fossil fuels like oil has extraordinarily high costs, both environmentally and economically.
Russia’s attack on Ukraine is an additional wake-up call to the risks and consequences of basing a global economy on fossil fuels and being dependent to any degree on a petro-dictator.
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We continue to see increasing evidence that decarbonizing the transportation sector and reducing our reliance on oil – regionally, nationally and globally – is key to both mitigating the worst effects of climate change and achieving energy independence.
To advance that goal, our organization tracks the Electric Vehicle (EV) market across the Southeast US, defined as Georgia, Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Currently, of those six states, Georgia ranks #1 in EV manufacturing jobs and #2 in EV manufacturing investments. Georgia stands to benefit greatly from transitioning to electric vehicles. Federal and state policies that make it easier for consumers and fleet operators to buy electric cars, trucks and buses will help grow the market for manufacturers operating in Georgia, like Hyundai, Bluebird, SK Innovation and Rivian.
The stronger the EV market, the better Georgia’s long-term economic development prospects are. The new Hyundai manufacturing facility planned for the Savannah area is a prime example of this. This plant is expected to feed more than 8,000 jobs. Georgia has the opportunity to become the Silicon Valley of Electric Transportation.
Even though Georgia is not an oil-producing state, its dependence on oil to consumer fuel and fleet vehicles is costly to all Georgians. It makes sense for Georgians to transition to EVs.
According to the Transportation Energy Data Book published by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in 2019, individuals and companies spent $15.4 billion on gas and diesel fuel and of that, $4.8 billion was kept in state. When Georgians fill up on gas and diesel, 69 cents of every dollar spent leaves Georgia’s economy for oil-rich states and countries.
When you drive electric, that money stays local. Based on research by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, if every car, truck and bus in Georgia was electric today, Georgia would get a $7.9 billion boost to the economy annually. That’s money that today leaks out of the pockets of consumers, governments and businesses.
These economic opportunities at hand are reasons why Georgians should be thinking about transportation electrification in addition, the benefits that would come with cleaner air quality and improved public health.
According to the American Lung Association’s “Zeroing in on Healthy Air” report, if Georgia eliminated tailpipe emissions and transitioned to clean electricity, it could almost $30 billion in cumulative health benefits between now and 2050, including avoiding more than 2,600 premature deaths, more than 70,000 asthma attacks and more than 385,000 lost work days,
Our organization is laser-focused on tracking what’s happening with EV manufacturing investment, jobs, vehicle sales and EV infrastructure investment and how that’s all feeding into this economic and public health opportunity.
Georgia is well positioned to take advantage of the transportation electrification opportunities presented by the federal bipartisan Investments, Infrastructure, and Jobs Act. At the end of 2021, Georgia ranked #2 in the Southeast in passenger EV sales per capita with 57,303 EVs sold. The state ranks #1 in charging infrastructure deployments per capita riding an impressive 63% growth in 2021 to 3,630 charging ports.
With billions of federal dollars available, now is a critical time for Georgia’s legislators, regulators, state agencies and stakeholders to work together to establish policy and regulatory conditions that will accelerate car, truck and bus electrification and support the state’s growing EV industry presence.