Supporting the Deployment of Clean Transportation in North Carolina

For decades, the United States has been working to move past its dependence on fossil fuels. One of these earliest efforts to move the nation towards cleaner transportation options started with the Energy Policy Act of 1992, which aimed to reduce the country’s dependence on petroleum and improve air quality. The act established the Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program, which created coalitions around the country that, to this day, work in their local communities to help evaluate transportation needs, grow the use of cleaner fuels and vehicles, improve fuel efficiency and reduce harmful emissions. Today, there are more than 75 coalitions including the Centralina Clean Fuels Coalition (CCFC), which is housed within Centralina Regional Council and serves a nine-county region. The grassroots efforts conducted through this federal program, combined with the ever-growing availability of alternative fuels and vehicles, has made it commonplace today for fleets and individuals to turn to cleaner transportation options for personal use, local transit and goods and businesses that deliver goods.  


While the prevalence of cleaner transportation options today illustrates the success of years of effort, significant needs and gaps in terms of clean mobility solutions remain. The transportation sector is still the leading source of carbon emissions in the U.S. In recent years, rising concerns about transportation’s effect on climate change has led to new policies being implemented at all levels of government.  These changes aim to accelerate earlier efforts and help set higher emission reduction, environmental justice and equity goals. North Carolina and the greater Charlotte region have been at the forefront of these efforts.  


In 2018, Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order (EO) 80 into law, initiating the state’s first major push towards cleaner transportation. EO 80 showed North Carolina’s commitment to not only address climate change, but also set an intention to transition the state’s economy to cleaner energy. EO 80 explicitly set a goal of a 40 percent reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) levels by 2025. 

in January 2022, Governor Cooper signed EO 246, which builds off EO 80 and established a 50 percent GHG reduction goal by 2030, followed by a net zero emissions target by 2050. EO 246 also directed the development of a Clean Transportation Plan and the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Analysis. The Clean Transportation Plan is a guiding document that focuses on coordinated strategies to accelerate statewide decarbonization efforts within the transportation sector, whereas the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Analysis exams specific actions necessary to achieve the state’s comprehensive GHG reduction targets.  

The North Carolina National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) plan was adopted in August of 2022, in advance of receiving NEVI funds made available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). The plan is focused on two phases and will support the development of the state’s public electric vehicle charging network, beginning with locations along the NC Division of the Federal Highway Administration’s designated electric corridors that are located along major highways.​​ To learn more about how these came to be, please read “How Alternative Fuel Corridors Help Shape Electric Transportation In North Carolina And Beyond” at the Plug-in NC website. 

CCFC continues their work in the clean transportation sector, most recently with the development of North Carolina’s first clean transportation plan, where staff participated in stakeholder working groups to help create what became the final plan. Now that the plan is completed, staff will assist in the implementation of decarbonization strategies identified in the plan. With the NEVI plan, the staff’s role has been focused more on the implementation of the plan. To date, these efforts have included outreach, communications and meeting participation. These efforts will further include technical assistance opportunities during the implementation of the phases. Our work with the Clean Transportation plan and the NEVI plan are two examples of the work we do. The team’s day-to-day work can range depending on the project or needs of the community but often  focuses on providing technical assistance, grants assistance, educating the community on new and emerging alternative fuels, data gathering and facilitating partnerships across the public and private sectors.  


Current funding opportunities and amounts have been described as “once-in-a-generation” and, based on the programs set in motion by BIL and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), will continue to flow to meet lofty GHG goals at local, state and federal levels. Individually owned vehicles are not the only focus of the new transportation funding; new fleet and significant infrastructure investments abound to build a cleaner economy and improve air quality in North Carolina and beyond. This variety of funding will help to build out alternative fueling corridors along major road networks, engage underserved and under-represented communities, research new fuels, move fleets from traditional petroleum options to alternative fuels, provide incentives for new and used electric vehicles and more.  


Reducing our state and country’s dependence on petroleum will continue to be a steep climb, but decades of work and ever-evolving technologies are making the move to cleaner transportation more streamlined and accessible to all.  

CCFC recognizes that there are a multitude of local and national funding opportunities for alternative fuel infrastructure available, with more coming. This landscape is difficult for stakeholders to navigate, presenting lots of questions surrounding ideal funds for given projects, available partners, best-fit technologies and other challenges. To address this, Centralina developed an Electric Vehicle Infrastructure and Funding Dashboard to serve as a one-stop resource for communities, organizations and businesses to identify available funding opportunities. In April, a statewide assessment was launched to gauge project interests, funding needs, partnering opportunities and more around alternative fuels and fueling infrastructure. Local governments, stakeholders or other organizations seeking to deploy clean vehicles or infrastructure in our region are encouraged to share their interests here. CCFC staff will use the shared information to better connect interests with funding opportunities in the coming months and years. 

Please reach out to Megan Upchurch (, CCFC Director, if you are interested in learning more. Additionally, sign up as a CCFC stakeholder to stay up to date on alternative fuels and technology. Centralina member communities are eligible to receive a complimentary Contributor-level sponsorship.