California Awards $800,000 to Pave the Way for Electric Vehicles

This week, the California Energy Commission announced four grants totaling $800,000 aimed at helping communities from Sacramento to San Diego forge an electric-vehicle (EV) infrastructure.

Grants totaling $200,000 each will go to the nine-county San Francisco Bay region; Central Coast cities in Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties; and the San Diego and Sacramento regions. The combined area is home to nearly 14 million people, who are expected to be strong early adopters of EVs, the agency said in a series of press releases.

Currently, there can be long wait times for inspectors to approve residential home chargers, and there is a lack of coordinated planning for complex installations at commercial properties, government facilities and multi-unit dwelling complexes, the agency said.

The grants will bring together public and private leaders from counties, cities, public agencies, community organizations, private industry, higher education, and utilities to create best-management practices to overcome these and other obstacles. They will be tasked with determining the best placement for charging stations, creating consistent permitting and inspection guidelines for EV chargers and ensuring that any infrastructure improvements to facilitate EVs do not cause supply problems for the local electric grid, among other goals, the agency said.

The California Air Resources Board recently unanimously approved regulations that require car manufacturers to cut smog emissions from new vehicles by 75 percent by 2025 and reduce greenhouse gases by 34 percent. To meet these goals, the number of plug-in battery electric vehicles in California is expected to double from current levels by 2013 and reach 460,000 by 2020.

A 2007 state law authorized the California Energy Commission to develop and deploy alternative and renewable fuels and advanced transportation technologies that run on electricity, hydrogen, natural gas and biofuels to help achieve the state’s climate change policies. California currently has the largest network of EV charging systems and hydrogen fueling stations in the country, according to the Commission’s 2011 Integrated Energy Policy Report.

Resources:

From Yale Environment 360: Interview with California Energy Commission Chair Mary Nichols — “California’s ‘Clean Car’ Rules Help Remake U.S. Auto Industry”

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