Decarbonization and zero-emissions technology is certainly on California Governor Jerry Brown’s mind. Clean air and energy is not lip service with him. Governor Brown, with California state agencies, has taken 32 pages to lay out a process for how to make zero emissions vehicles abundant across the Golden State.
Hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles are all promoted on the roads in California through the 2013 Zero-emission Vehicle (ZEV) Action Plan [PDF].
Becoming Green and Affordable
One thing that holds the truly concerned environmentalists back (unless they have liberated themselves by living on their bike or using transit transit) is the higher up-front cost of buying ZEVs. Ways to ease this problem are in the works: the 2013 ZEV Action Plan aims to help get 1.5 million ZEVson California’s roads by 2025 through a combination of consumer incentives, infrastructure improvements, and communication / awareness-raising.
Among many other things, the state would subsidize utility price discounts for ZEV charging, create enough of an infrastructure to support one million ZEVs statewide by the end of the decade, and work with insurance companies to possibly reduce premiums for ZEV drivers. The state government would also have 10% of its light-duty vehicle purchases be ZEVs by 2015, and 25% by 2020.
Dozens of specific actions are detailed under the following four broad goals, Green Car Congress notes:
- Complete needed infrastructure and planning
- Expand consumer awareness and demand
- Transform fleets
- Grow jobs and investment in the private sector
For the “complete needed infrastructure and planning” goal, there are a total of 45 specific actions for these 13 objectives:
- Provide crucial early funding for ZEV charging and fueling infrastructure.
- Support ZEV infrastructure planning and investment by public and private entities.
- Enable universal access to ZEV infrastructure for California drivers.
- Ensure pricing transparency for ZEV charging and fueling.
- Expand appropriate ZEV-related signage on highway corridors and surface streets.
- Support local government efforts to prepare communities for increased PEV usage and the coming commercialization of FCEVs.
- Ensure that hydrogen and electricity can legally be sold as a retail transportation fuel.
- Make it easier to locate and install public PEV infrastructure.
- Ensure a minimum network of hydrogen stations for the commercial launch of fuel cell vehicles between 2015 and 2017.
- Streamline permitting of hydrogen stations.
- Plan for and integrate peak vehicle demand for electricity into the state’s energy grid.
- Establish consistent statewide codes and standards for ZEV infrastructure.
- Coordinate with other “Section 177 states” that have adopted California’s ZEV mandate to learn from each other’s innovations and enable a seamless consumer experience for ZEV drivers across the country.
For the “expand consumer awareness and demand” goal, there are 30 actions detailed under these 7 objectives:
- Reduce up-front purchase costs for ZEVs.
- Encourage and support auto dealers to increase sales and leases of ZEVs.
- Reduce operating costs for ZEVs.
- Develop and maintain attractive non-monetary incentives for use of ZEVs.
- Strengthen connections between research institutions and auto makers to better understand how ZEVs are being used.
- ￼Promote consumer awareness of ZEVs through public education, outreach and direct driving experiences.
- Provide plug-in vehicle (PEV) drivers with options to connect PEV charging with energy efficiency and renewable energy.
For the “transform fleets” goal, there are 30 actions detailed under these 10 objectives:
- Incorporate ZEVs into state vehicle fleet.
- Identify funding to expand fleet purchases of ZEVs and ZEV infrastructure.
- Track benefits of fleets’ transition to ZEVs to the extent practicable.
- Complete necessary infrastructure to allow for 10% ZEV purchases by 2015.
- Maximize use of ZEVs in state-sponsored car rentals.
- Ensure that state vehicles can benefit from evolving benefits associated with ZEVs and position state vehicle fleets to participate in technology demonstrations.
- Expand use of ZEVs for private light- and medium-duty fleets.
- Help to expand ZEVs within bus fleets.
- Reduce cost barriers to ZEV adoption for freight vehicles.
- Integrate ZEVs into freight planning.
And for the “grow jobs and investment in the private sector” goal, there are 15 specific actions detailed under these 4 objectives:
- Leverage tools to support business attraction, retention and expansion of ZEV companies.
- Support demonstration and commercialization of ZEV-related technologies by California companies.
- Support R&D activities at California universities and research institutions.
- Prepare California workers to participate in ZEV-related jobs.
Again, thanks to Green Car Congress for those bullet-point lists.
Acting Now, Being Aware, Stepping in Time with Global Concerns
Californians do not drag their feet on change; they want clear air and long-life, and they are acting now. I sometimes wonder if the rest of our country is asleep. Here’s a spark to burst that hidden bubble, so that our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will appreciate that we did wake up, instead of being overcome by lapses into denial and procrastination.
When one thinks of our children, who are carrying a burden of planetary injury they did not incite, one does wonder why we have taken so long to act. Let’s hope that other states and their respective legislators begin swiftly to lay down regulations that work for zero emissions vehicles and drop the cost for those looking to become early adopters.
For me, bike paths, bike shares, and mass transit are still priority options, but if all autos transitioned to zero emission technology, that would allow green transport within interdependent value systems and lifestyle choices.
These new plans are par for the course for a state that accounts for about 12% of the country’s approximately 250 million vehicles but about 40% of the country’s plug-ins. In January 2012, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) came out with its proposed requirement that at least 15.4% of new vehicles sold by a major automaker in the state would have to either be a plug-in electric vehicle or hydrogen powered by 2025. California has also long been at the forefront of cutting vehicle emissions through initiatives such as stricter fuel-economy standards and emissions controls.
Remember this one, a visionary song of our visionary state (and before this, the woes of losing trees for concrete spaces):