Program Deploys Hundreds of Electric Vehicles in Disadvantaged Communities


By Randall Wilde

November 18, 2016

California Air Resources Board provides rebates for cleaner vehicles in public fleets

A California Air Resources Board (ARB) October 20 decision extended funding for increased electric vehicle (EV) incentives for public agency fleets in the state’s most pollution-burdened communities. The Public Fleet Pilot Project has already led to more than 1 million emissions-free miles driven within disadvantaged community ZIP codes. The project is a key part of the state’s strategy to expand the reach of clean vehicle technology into new markets through increased rebates, targeted outreach and technical assistance.

The Center for Sustainable Energy® (CSE) has managed ARB’s Public Fleet Pilot Project since its inception in 2014 alongside the long-running Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP) and has supported the deployment of more than 350 EVs at 60 public agencies across the state. It was the first of several pilot projects launched to address the disproportionate impacts of poor air quality and other environmental issues affecting disadvantaged communities.

The pilot’s $2.8 million in initial rebate funding was fully reserved within 16 months of application availability. The increased incentives and additional outreach efforts contributed to total government agency rebate applications nearly tripling from 2014 to 2015. ARB’s revised fiscal year 2016-17 funding plan approved on October 20 allocates an additional $3 million to continue the pilot.

The Public Fleet Pilot Project offered local and state public agencies in disadvantaged communities increased CVRP rebates up to $5,250 for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, $10,000 for battery electric vehicles and $15,000 for fuel cell electric vehicles. Participants benefited from lower acquisition costs while saving on operational costs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“The rebates made it possible for our city to procure its first electric vehicles,” said Russ Robertson, director of Public Works in Reedley, Calif. “The savings in fuel costs, as well as knowing that we are doing our part to improve our air quality, is nearly invaluable.”

In Wasco, Calif., the elementary school district procured five Nissan Leafs through the project and installed four public EV charging stations. Kelly Richers, district superintendent, said the use of EVs has reduced interdistrict travel costs to 20 percent of previous levels.

Public Fleet Pilot Project rebates have been distributed in 23 counties within 10 different air districts across California. Recipients include a range of state agencies, city and county governments, school districts and other public entities. An interactive map of rebate distribution is available online.

Project staff also developed a complimentary technical assistance program. CSE partnered with FleetCarma to assess EV replacement suitability for eight public agencies located in disadvantaged communities. Approximately 80% of the baseline vehicles analyzed were recommended for replacement with a plug-in vehicle model.

“This assessment was a great opportunity to evaluate our future needs for electric vehicles and related equipment to change our carbon footprint” said Roseann Galvan with the city of Selma.

Assessment participants, including San Joaquin County, Alameda County and the cities of Compton, Colton, Selma and Visalia, have since acquired or begun the process of acquiring EVs. More information on the EV suitability assessment results is available at the CVRP website.

The Public Fleet Pilot Project has broadened the reach of CVRP and increased the visibility of EVs in disadvantaged communities around the state. Public agency EV adoption exposes agency employees, fleet staff and the local community to the technology and sparks the rollout of electric vehicle charging equipment, often open to the public as well as fleet vehicles.

Another benefit of the project has been the accumulation of information on fleet EV adoption barriers and lessons learned. Sharing this information and providing capacity-building technical assistance will ensure lasting impacts beyond the life of the pilot.

Extending the Public Fleet Pilot Project will allow ARB to continue supporting the deployment of clean vehicles in communities where they are most needed.

For more information, visit the Public Fleet Pilot Project website.

Randall Wilde

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