Air Quality

Published on September 1st, 2014 | by Cynthia Shahan


Charge Ahead California Opens A Portal To America’s Future

September 1st, 2014 by  

Several models of electric cars are now affordable, with post-incentive prices under $20,000 for a few of them. When you consider the fact that driving on electricity is like driving on $1/gallon gasoline, that can equal big savings.

It appears many Californians have figured this one out, as it is one of the leading electric car markets in the world, and it may soon get even better. Max Baumhefner’s blog for Switchboard NRDC points this out: “California is poised to open a portal to America’s future, shoving Big Oil off the highways to make room for cleaner transportation alternatives that will improve the nation’s health and provide drivers with much-needed relief from pain at the pump.”

Baumhefner continues: “the California Legislature gave final passage to the Charge Ahead California Initiative to put 1 million electric vehicles on the road within 10 years and sent it to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature.”


The legislation is the first in the nation to try to place 1 million electric cars, trucks, and buses on a state’s streets within a decade. (There are currently ~100,000 electric cars on California’s roads.)

Modern society has so many ills, one being that 19.3% Of the United States population lives near a high-volume road. That’s about one-fifth of the population. Baumhefner points out: California’s even worse. “With four-in-ten Californians living dangerously close to pollution-choked highways, resulting in more premature deaths associated with traffic pollution than from traffic accidents, the transition to near-zero and zero emission vehicles is desperately needed.”

The Charge Ahead legislation also addresses lower-income needs and increases the moderate income family’s ability to make the switch. The bill has credit enhancement programs to help families with credit deficiency. Once the change is made, money saved at the pump makes a great difference for these families. The bill also includes vouchers for transit passes and car-sharing programs.

The Charge Ahead California Initiative (Senate Bill 1275) is sponsored by the Coalition for Clean Air, Communities for a Better Environment, Environment California, The Greenlining Institute, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Switchboard, NRDC, Energy Information Administration

One more thing to note about electric cars before closing is that electricity prices are much more stable than gasoline prices. Look at the graph above for a good visual of that. It shows both historical prices and price forecasts. Staggering how much of a difference there is.

I hope the rest of the country will take note and jump into the portal of change that is cutting smog and global warming emissions.

As Mike Barnard points out in a previous CleanTechnica article on the benefits of electric vehicles: “As the grid decarbonizes, dominantly due to increased renewables, the CO2 balance will change.” Many of us will be breathing fresher air rather than air heavy with particulates that create illness. I appreciate California’s lead in this important health matter.

Related Stories:

NC State Study Says Electric Cars Don’t Reduce Emissions

A Gallon Of Tar Sands Oil Can Send An EV Over 30 Miles

Electric Buses Overall Best For CO2, Health & Price; Hydrogen Worst

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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About the Author

is a Mother, an Organic Farmer, Licensed Acupuncturist, Anthropology Studies, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings who have lit the way for me for decades.

  • Mark Roest

    It would be really educational (and help with both marketing and
    politics) to add a line for the true historical and expected cost of
    production and distribution of motor fuels to the graph, making sure NOT
    to include costs for setting reserves aside for further exploration and
    development (since we need to leave it in the ground), and being sure
    TO reduce it by the effective subsidies like depletion allowances,
    military spending primarily to control oil supplies, etc. (let’s show
    both lines, so we can see how much we are giving them on top of their
    windfall profits!).

    Actually, the line for electricity prices
    going into the future should start to decline radically, about 5 to 10
    years after we have started making major headway in pushing both oil off
    the road, and coal and natural gas out of the power plant. Why? Because
    that is how long it will take to amortize the renewable energy
    generation and battery storage equipment that will be available within
    the next two to five years. After each piece of equipment is amortized
    through savings, its output costs less than a third as much, after
    costing in operations and maintenance, plus a reserve fund for
    decommissioning and replacement at end of life.

    How much subsidy is included in the new bill per family that benefits from it?

  • Saleh

    The long-term trend for oil prices is downward. Prices will head south because of the following probable trends: (1) Increases in oil supply from the US, Canada, Iraq, and other places that offset decreases from the UK, Norway, and other places. (2) A stable global oil demand that is starting to plateau and will decrease in the long run. Reasons for a diminishing demand include: the exponential growth in the electrification of transportation and the probable growth in biofuel industry. By 2030, All fossil fuels will be things of the past. Crazy thought but that’s what you get when you experience an exponential growth (Solar, wind, EVs, and most of other renewables).

    • Mike Shurtleff

      “that’s what you get when you experience an exponential growth (Solar, wind, EVs, and most of other renewables)”
      Spot on!

  • greatferm

    When will someone see the logic of the electric pickup truck ?
    Some days they sit all day in the sun, with plenty of room for solar panels, and with that bed for any size of generator, there is no range anxiety.
    I’m still waiting…

    • Offgridman

      Via motors is doing a hybrid conversions of GM trucks. You could get one of those, add one of the big full length ladder racks and cover it with panels, you could probably fit at least a couple of Kw. I believe they have a plug-in version so it shouldn’t be to hard to arrange the charging and be able to make most or all of your miles without gas. With the added plus that you will be carrying your carport with you to help keep things cooler, and you can use the truck as your back up power supply at home in case of a black out.
      Also if you have more use for a van or SUV body style they do conversions of those as well as pickup trucks.
      Have fun and please post us an article and pictures when you get it done.

      • jeffhre

        That is a long list of “you coulds.” Anytime you have about $100,000.00 burning a hole in your pocket, yes you could do a lot of things!

        • Mike Shurtleff

          VIA’s vehicles are expensive. I didn’t think they were quite that bad.

        • Offgridman

          When making sure of the Via name there was also a reference that prices start at forty thousand, so with an additional ten or maybe twenty thousand for the rack, panels, and connectors/charge controller, greatferm can have his solar powered truck. He won’t even have to buy a generator for extended range as it comes included with the Via truck. And while this will vary according to the accessory packages chosen, I don’t see where it would have to cost a hundred grand, but even if it did he will have years of no gas and reduced maintenance costs to help balance things out, while not harming the environment with another ICE vehicle.
          People and companies end up paying over fifty grand for good work trucks already with heavy duty motors and tow packages, which will come automatically with the Via. And since they already come equipped with inverters and AC and DC power outlets it can be an on job site power station, or backup at home in case of a blackout.
          Greatferm was asking for a solar powered truck, so my suggestion was just a way to get one without having to wait on the big manufacturers. As to specific end cost, that is up to each individual and what they want and what it is worth to them.

          • jeffhre

            Ummm, no! Unfortunately. “Some reviewers and Internet commenters have done a double take at the price tag of $79,000-plus for fleet buyers, around twice what a comparably equipped conventional Chevy truck would be.”

            Adding a short list of things a person “could” do – adds to the price, for fleet pricing!

      • Mike Shurtleff

        Yes, I believe their SUVs, Trucks, and Vans are Extended-Range Electric Vehicles (E-REVs). This is a specific type of PHEV. They can run all-electric at freeway speeds for enough distance to take care of most average daily needs, but can also run in hybrid mode on fuel after that. Essentially EVs with extended range hybrid backup.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Working trucks couldn’t carry enough panels to add significant range. And the panels would often be in the way.

      I suspect PHEVs are the sweet truck solution. Enough range to get to the typical work site. Often one can plug in at work which doubles the range. On those work sites where there’s no power the ICE becomes a very efficient, quiet generator. If there is a lot of running around to do on some days, there’s no range limit.

      With the torque of the batteries/motor pulling a heavy trailer would be a breeze.

    • UncleB

      Cab over engine styled utility trucks with an electric motors on each wheel and a biscuit styled battery underneath – all plastic and aluminum construction for max payload. Costly but fully repairable. Electric so Solar, Wind, Wave, Hydro, Tidal, Geothermal, Nuclear,all fair energy sources. Recyclable Aluminum bodies cheap to form, worth more in their scrap value.

  • spec9

    That gas price versus electricity price is great. It points out something people often just don’t get . . . not only are gas prices high . . . but they are volatile and they are headed higher in the long term. Whereas electricity prices are low and very stable.

    Why? because gasoline can really only be made from one thing . . . oil. Whereas electricity can be made from solar PV, offshore wind, geothermal, biomass, coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydropower, onshore wind, concentrated solar power, etc.

    (And spare me talk about biofuels . . .they cost more than oil and there is limited farmland. Not gonna work.)

    • Yeah. We ran some articles (or at least one) on that some years back, but should highlight it in an article of its own again.

    • (And I have no interest in going into biofuels. Not my choice alternative.)

    • Vensonata

      Gas prices are high? Not in the U.S. they are cheap compared to Canada. And bargain basement compared to Europe. In fact they must be subsidized ( just my suspicion, they seem way too low). It seems in the U.S. a politician can lose an election over gas prices. So the general population are really the villains in this…they drive too much and demand to do it cheaply without regard to the consequences to health, and climate change. We would see tremendous interest in EV’s if gas was $10 gallon.

      • Offgridman

        Unfortunately it is not just the gasoline and diesel prices that are subsidized (if not at pump prices then in tax write-offs for long distance haulers and companies purchasing fuel for fleets of smaller vehicles) but also the energy needed for homes. Whether electricity, natural or LP gas, or any other source used to heat or cool space or water.
        That is why the US is now pushing policies, with subsidies and tax breaks for energy efficiency in homes and businesses. It is a totally messed up system where almost none of the citizenry have any comprehension of the amount of energy they use nor the true costs and effects of using it, no matter what the source.

        • Vensonata

          Amen to that, brother!

    • Will E

      and Solar and Wind electricity is made local. gasoline money is gone to Middle East, clean profits for local communities,
      all communities can install Solar and make a lot of dollars for their voters.
      Germany balance had a surplus of 16 billion.
      first time since 1971.
      Solar and Wind Power profits

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