WASHINGTON — Edison International Chairman and CEO Ted Craver said an environmental study released Thursday “gives a clear picture of how expanding transportation electrification is key to achieving critical greenhouse gas and air quality goals for this nation.”

Conducted by the Electric Power Research Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council, “Environmental Assessment of a Full Electric Transportation Portfolio” found that with a cleaner energy grid in the year 2050, widespread electrification of cars, trucks and power equipment could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 550 million metric tons annually — or the equivalent of taking 100 million fossil-fuel passenger cars off the road.

“This research underscores the important role U.S. electric utilities can play in helping to achieve greenhouse gas and air quality goals by jump-starting the electric vehicle market,” Craver said. Edison International is the parent company of Southern California Edison (SCE), one of the nation’s largest electric utilities.

Combining reductions from electric vehicles, a cleaner grid and existing programs that improve conventional vehicle efficiency, the electricity and transportation sectors together could achieve up to 70 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions between 2015 and 2050, the study says.

“This research points to the importance of two fundamental and parallel trends in energy and the environment,” said Mike Howard, Electric Power Research Institute president and CEO. “First is the long-term decarbonization of the electricity sector and second is the electrification of energy use in transportation and industry. We expect to see continued interest and work in measuring and understanding these trends more fully in the years and decades ahead.”

David Hawkins, director of climate programs at the Natural Resources Defense Council, called the pollution reductions significant, adding that widespread transportation electrification should be “a key part of the U.S. strategy to combat climate change and ensure a clean energy future.”

The study, a multiyear effort to understand the potential environmental impacts of electric transportation, updates a 2007 study and assumes half of all vehicle miles traveled in the country by the year 2050 would be in electric vehicles. The area with the highest air quality impact would be Los Angeles, with an improvement of four parts per billion of ozone in 2030 which is equivalent to taking 10 percent of fossil-fuel vehicles off the road.

Noting that California has about 150,000 electric vehicles — or about 42 percent of national sales — and more than 46,000 of those are in SCE’s service territory, Craver called on other states to follow California’s example.

“Today’s study validates that California is making meaningful progress,” Craver said. “But if we really want to improve air quality, achieve critical greenhouse gas reduction and move toward energy independence, we would like the rest of the country to join us.”

In California, where greenhouse gas reduction is a central feature of public policy, electric vehicles play an important role. For example, Gov. Jerry Brown’s goals include infrastructure to support 1 million electric vehicles by 2020, 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025 and 80 percent reduction in carbon pollution from the transportation sector by 2050.

According to the California Air Resources Board, “mile for mile, electric vehicles fueled from the grid in California emit 70 percent fewer greenhouse gases than gasoline vehicles. They reduce emissions that lead to smog to essentially zero.”

Craver cited a number of SCE actions underway that demonstrate the utility’s commitment to accelerating electric vehicle adoption, including:

  • Seeking the California Public Utilities Commission’s authorization for the Charge Ready Program, which will add as many as 30,000 new electric vehicle chargers throughout SCE’s 50,000-square-mile service territory.
  • Meeting Edison Electric Institute's industry-wide goal for investor-owned utilities to spend at least 5 percent of annual fleet acquisition budgets on plug-in electric vehicles and technologies.
  • Partnering with the Department of Defense on a vehicle-to-grid demonstration, testing whether vehicle batteries can be used to store renewable power that system operators can tap into.

“At Edison, we are committed to working to achieve the positive results this study says we can achieve,” Craver said. “Today our nation is at a crossroads. We can either continue to drive cars that impact our health and put the future of our planet in peril, or we can embrace clean, safe electric transportation.”