California ARB releases proposed Innovative Clean Transit (ICT) regulation; 100% ZEB purchasing by 2029
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has released its proposed Innovative Clean Transit (ICT) regulation (earlier post) and a Draft Environmental Analysis (Draft EA) for public comment. CARB will conduct a public hearing on 27 September in Sacramento to consider the proposed ICT Regulation.
As currently written, the ICT contains a number of elements to bring about the transition to a complete zero-emission bus (ZEB) fleet. ZEB is defined as a bus with zero tailpipe emissions. Battery electric buses and fuel cell electric buses qualify. Elements of the ICT include:
ZEB Rollout Plan. Every California transit agency would be required to submit a ZEB Rollout Plan approved by governing board, with due dates of 30 June 2020, for a large transit agency (with 100 or more transit buses) and 30 June 2023, for a small transit agency (with fewer than 100 transit buses).
ZEB purchase requirements. A large transit agency would phase in ZEB purchasing starting in 2023 at 25% of annual new buses purchased. This would increase to 50% in 2026 and 100% in 2029. A small transit agency would have a 25% target in 2026, and a 100% target in 2029.
Early compliance waivers. Purchase requirements otherwise effective in calendar year 2023 would be waived if California transit agencies collectively purchase 1,000 or more ZEBs by 31 December 2020. Purchase requirements otherwise effective in calendar year 2024 would be waived if California transit agencies collectively purchase 1,150 or more ZEBs by 31 December 2021.
Zero-Emission Mobility Option. A transit agency may use zero-emission cars or vans or bicycles to meet a portion of its ZEB requirements.
ZEB Bonus credit. A transit agency can receive bonus credits for early placement of ZEBs, including extra credits for early Fuel cell electric buses; however, bonus credits do not apply to the waiver for early compliance.
Optional Joint Zero-Emission Bus Group. Allows for transit agencies to form a Joint Zero-Emission Bus Group to pool resources and more efficient utilization of infrastructure.
Use of low NOx engines. Starting 1 January 2020, transit agencies would be required to purchase low NOx engines if available for the bus and fuel type being purchased. The requirement does not apply to buses dispatched from NOx-exempt areas.
Use of renewable fuels. Starting 1 January 2020, large transit agencies would be required to use renewable fuels for diesel and compressed natural gas (CNG) buses when fuel contracts are renewed to support existing renewable fuel policies.
Deferral. A transit agency may submit a request for extension or exemption from ZEB purchase requirements, under conditions outside the transit agency’s control.
Reporting. Starting in 2021 all transit agencies would be required to report their fleet information annually for the prior compliance year.
Staff plans to provide the Board with an update on costs and performance of ZEBs by the end of 2021, which is two years before the first ZEB purchase requirement starts in 2023.
Background. Under California’s current Transit Fleet Rule, public transit agencies operating urban bus fleets were required to select either a diesel bus path or an alternative-fuel bus path and comply with retrofit, fuel purchase, fleet average, and reporting requirements. The diesel bus path required retrofitting existing buses with diesel particulate filters, while agencies utilizing alternative-fuel path had to ensure that 85% of urban bus purchases were alternative fueled buses. To date, about 55% of all buses in California operate on alternative fuels.
In 2006, an amendment to the Transit Fleet Rule added a 15% zero-emission bus (ZEB) purchase requirement for larger transit agencies defined as with more than 200 urban buses to purchase ZEBs starting in 2011. Ten transit agencies subject to the ZEB purchase requirements accounted for about 60% of the statewide urban bus fleet. To date, except for the ZEB purchase requirement, all other regulatory provisions have been met and are being implemented.
In 2009, CARB staff presented ZEB technology evaluations to the Board and concluded that the ZEB technologies were not commercially ready at that time. The Board directed staff to prepare proposed amendments to the regulation to delay the ZEB purchase requirement, conduct further research on commercial-readiness metrics, implement the purchase requirement once commercial readiness had been achieved, and report back to the Board in 2012 on progress towards ZEB commercialization.
CARB staff in 2015 concluded that ZEB technologies were now in their early commercialization stage. Staff updated the Board in February 2016 at a public hearing about the status of ZEB technology, price, and deployment. In the update to the Board, staff discussed plans to reinstate ZEB purchase requirements, including the public process on amending the rule with a broader goal of making a transition to an all ZEB fleet.
Staff has continued to analyze and update technical and cost information, as well as evaluate various regulatory strategies. This proposed ICT regulation is a result of that process.