Spending smarter: lessons and opportunities for state DOTs

Two states that are changing how transportation investments are prioritized were featured recently on an SSTI webinar. Virginia just funded a third round of projects under its Smart Scale program, while Hawaii piloted its own SmartTRAC program with help from SSTI and Smart Growth America. SSTI will soon be launching a new project to learn from these past experiences and guide future programs, and we invite interested agencies to reach out.

Hawaii moves toward road usage charge and a clean energy future

With continuously declining fuel tax revenues and growing interest in sustainable modes of transportation, many states have initiated conversations around vehicle miles traveled fees. Hawaii has addressed this topic more aggressively than many others. To compensate for the declining revenue source and consciously prepare for 2045, Hawaii is set to launch its VMT demonstration project this fall. A VMT system is a logical intervention as Hawaii moves toward its goal of an all-electric vehicle fleet, and a mileage-based fee carries a strong price signal for all drivers.

Oregon regulators require public utilities to adopt plans for electric vehicles

While electric vehicles only make up a small share of the current U.S. vehicle fleet, by 2040 they are expected to comprise approximately 55 percent of all new vehicle sales. Accommodating for growing EV demand, however, will require major changes in how utilities supply electricity. At the moment, the electrical grid is simply not equipped to handle widespread EV adoption. In Oregon, regulators are attempting to address this problem.

To meet clean energy goals, everyone will need better transportation options

The proposed Green New Deal, like many local green energy and climate action plans across the country, aspires to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. SSTI has crunched the numbers in several cases, including for Hawaii’s Transcending Oil report, and found that ignoring the amount that people drive means even the most ambitious energy plans could fall well below their targets. But that also means focusing on those who drive the most—typically in far-flung suburbs with limited transportation options—and finding creative ways for them to reduce their impacts.

Estimating policy effects on reduced vehicle travel in Hawaii (SSTI, 2019)

Transcending Oil, released in April 2018, describes Hawaii’s path toward meeting its ambitious clean energy goals by 2045. The report was commissioned by Elemental Excelerator and prepared independently by Rhodium Group and Smart Growth America. It focuses mainly on transitioning the electrical grid to renewable energy while moving large numbers of vehicles to electric power but also points to the importance of managing overall travel demand through transportation policies and investments. This technical guide describes the methods and findings behind Transcending Oil’s travel demand forecasts, developed by SSTI and Smart Growth America.

To reach clean energy goals, Hawaii needs to address VMT

Ten years ago, the State of Hawaii set an ambitious goal to reduce their dependence on imported oil and create a clean energy future by 2045. The Elemental Excelerator commissioned Rhodium Group and Smart Growth America to analyze specifically what it will take for Hawaii to reach that goal. The report on that analysis—Transcending Oil: Hawaii’s Path to a Clean Energy Economy—was released on Earth Day and explains that transitioning Hawaii off of oil will pay many benefits.