The energy and transportation sectors are poised for transformation. From the bottom up, startups and innovators are disrupting business as usual. From the top-down, federal legislation may soon fundamentally change our nation’s infrastructure for the better. And at ZETA, industry leaders strategize alongside aspiring innovators across the supply chain to advocate for historic investments that will usher in a revolutionary clean economy.
Americans are getting on board with the energy transition — decarbonized, decentralized, digitalized, and electrified forms of energy and transportation. And organizations are asking tough questions: How do we adapt? How do we help our country achieve net-zero emissions by 2050?
Over our 185-year journey, we’ve gained insights that may help other organizations find firm footing in this new landscape. So, first, I’ll share one key idea that’s enabled us to harness the energy transition — it’s how we’re changing. And then I’ll conclude on our enduring vision — how we remain the same.
Perhaps the biggest thing we’ve done is accept that we don’t have all the answers. We know that no one innovates alone and no single technology solves every problem. The energy and transportation ecosystems are incredibly complex — involving utilities, automakers, energy companies, electrical manufacturers, and governmental organizations. That’s why we partner in everything we do.
For instance, we’re not in the business of manufacturing medium- and heavy-duty trucks, but we are in the business of providing electrical distribution systems. That’s why we’re partnering with PACCAR on preparing infrastructure for e-truck fleets. We deliver the overnight AC and fast-charging DC electrical equipment; PACCAR delivers the battery-electric Peterbilt and Kenworth trucks. Together, we’re electrifying the freight and logistics industry.
I can also say that we’re not a financial services company. But we are in the business of providing affordable microgrids and electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. So, we’re partnering with the Carlyle Group and Huck Capital to deliver electrical system upgrades via our innovative financing model, Energy as a Service (EaaS). Thanks to EaaS, the Montgomery County, MD municipal government can now deploy a fleet of e-buses and charge them with a renewable-energy microgrid. With EaaS, the county bypasses budget constraints by converting upfront costs into predictable monthly payments.
Ultimately, our partnerships help us because they open new directions for our business. EaaS, for example, is an entirely new business model for us. In a time when the ground beneath us is shifting, agility and flexibility are key. Partnerships give us more space to maneuver.
Although we’ve gone through many changes recently, we remain firm in our vision of what drives progress and what will bring the U.S. to net-zero emissions by 2050.
Let’s face it: not every consumer is ready to buy an EV and not every company is ready to electrify its fleet. Americans value freedom. And we believe that on the path to net-zero emissions, we need to offer freedom of choice, including more competitive transportation options. As such, policies must create a foundation for innovation as opposed to issuing mandates or denying choice. At Schneider, we believe successful technological and energy revolutions are market- and consumer-driven.
ZETA’s vision is ambitious, but at its core, it’s focused on opening up a new lane for consumers who want to choose EVs. Today, the electric lane isn’t big enough, and we need federal policies, such as those ZETA is proposing, to widen it. EVs have promising benefits when it comes to the total cost of ownership, air pollution, and decarbonization. Moreover, the world needs more electrification. Electricity remains the most efficient form of energy — not just for transportation but for homes, buildings, data centers, industrial sites, and infrastructure. And yet, EVs remain out of reach for many consumers, mostly because the infrastructure hasn’t been built out yet. Ultimately, we’d like to see EVs compete with gas-powered vehicles on a more level playing field, so that Americans have more transportation options.
And if we want to get to net-zero emissions by 2050 — a broadly supported, science-based target — there are lingering questions that we still need to answer: How do we prepare the grid, our buildings, and our homes for mass electrification? Will the grid be sufficiently resilient and decarbonized? Will we have strategic supply chains in place
All of us must work together to solve these challenges. And although not everyone agrees with every detail, many of us agree that modernizing our infrastructure is good for the country. Investing in our nation’s infrastructure will elevate U.S. competitiveness, create jobs, increase grid resilience, and offer Americans more choices about how they get around.
Of course, these investments will take time to yield results. The landscape won’t transform overnight. That’s why we must continue laying the groundwork now.