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California Senate passes bill to accelerate adoption of EVs; support for low- and moderate-income motorists

The California Senate today passed SB 1275 (the Charge Ahead California Initiative) by a bipartisan vote of 27-9. The bill advances the goal of putting one million electric cars, trucks, and buses on the road over the next decade by improving consumer incentives and rebates.

Specifically, SB 1275 would establish the Charge Ahead California Initiative, to be administered by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) with the goals of placing at least 1 million zero-emission and near-zero-emission vehicles in service by 2023; to create a self-sustaining industry for these vehicles; and to increase access to those vehicles in disadvantaged communities.

The bill would require ARB to consult with specified entities and stakeholders to adopt a funding plan for specified programs to meet the goals of the Initiative; require ARB to make specified changes to certain vehicle rebate and voucher incentive programs; and establish specified new programs. The bill would also require ARB to expand the Enhanced Fleet Modernization Program to allow for public transportation and car-sharing vouchers as an alternative to vehicle replacement vouchers.

The bill would require ARB, in consultation with the California Energy Commission (CEC), air districts, and public stakeholders to:

  • Adopt a plan by 30 June 2015 that establishes an estimate of the total funding necessary for specified programs and projects to meet the Initiative’s goals. The programs funded would include the CVRP (Clean Vehicle Rebate Program), HVIP (Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project ), various components of the ARFVT (Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program), pre-commercial demonstration projects of advanced freight and transit technology for goods and passenger movement, and specified new programs.

  • Update the funding plan at least every three years through 1 January 2023.

  • Adopt revisions to CVRP criteria and guidelines by 30 June 2015 to ensure rebate levels are phased down in multiyear increments and to expand access and eligibility to low- and moderate-income persons, as specified.

  • Adopt revisions to HVIP by 30 June 2015 to ensure program eligibility for a truck and bus retrofitted or remanufactured to be a zero- or near-zero-emission vehicle.

  • Establish programs that increase access and benefits for disadvantaged and low- and moderate-income communities from electric transportation, including: loan and loss reserve financing, car sharing programs, and charging infrastructure in multi-unit dwellings in disadvantaged communities. Require these new programs to provide adequate outreach to disadvantaged and low- and moderate-income communities.

SB 1275 would also require ARB to update the existing Enhanced Fleet Modernization Program (EFMP) guidelines to ensure that public transit or car sharing vouchers are available as an alternative to vehicle replacement vouchers, and that those vouchers be equal in value to a vehicle replacement voucher.

According to the Senate analysis of the bill, ARBs says it will need approximately $619,000 and 4 PY (person-years) upfront in 2014-15, with combined ongoing annual costs reaching approximately $1 million and 6 PY to develop and administer the required new program components, as well as unknown ongoing costs to fund additional program expenditures, likely in the millions to tens of millions annually.

The Governor’s 2014-15 proposed budget includes appropriations of $850 million in cap-and-trade revenues to fund various projects and programs designed to reduce GHG emissions. As part of the Administration’s overall strategy, ARB submitted a Budget Change Proposal (BCP) requesting $200 million from the GGRF [Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund] and 15 PY of staff to support the expansion of existing clean transportation programs that provide incentives for sustainable freight technology, zero and low-emission vehicles, and clean trucks and buses. According to the BCP, these funds would benefit disadvantaged communities through the retirement and replacement of older, high-emitting vehicles with low-emission passenger vehicles in these communities, and supporting the demonstration of advanced freight technology to move cargo, which will benefit communities near freight hubs.

This proposal is consistent with the May 2013 Cap-and- Trade Auction Proceeds Investment Plan, which emphasizes investments in existing programs in sectors which have the greatest GHG emissions, namely transportation, energy, waste, and natural resources, with proposed investments commensurate with relative emissions. Investment in existing programs, rather than creating new programs, expedites investments in GHG-reducing projects. The Legislature has yet to act on the Administration’s proposal, but it could be modified through the budget process to incorporate the goals and expenditures envisioned by this bill.

—Senate staff comments

With its passage in the Senate, SB 1275 now heads to the State Assembly for further review.


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