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$1.4 Billion Approved For Zero-Emissions Vehicles In California

California is the leading electric vehicle state in the US both for the total number of EVs and public EV chargers, so it’s not surprising that the California Energy Commission (CEC) recently approved $1.4 billion in funding to support zero emissions vehicles and the supportive infrastructure. (In this case, ZEV includes the use of hydrogen refueling infrastructure.) A CEC report from June 2021 stated California will need over one million EV chargers to accommodate the anticipated 7.5 million EVs in the state by 2030. The new $1.4 billion in CEC funding will help grow the number of EV chargers in California, amongst other efforts. Currently, there are about 73,000 EV public and shared chargers in California with another 123,000 planned to be installed by 2025.

Patrick Brecht, Project Manager for the Clean Transportation Program Investment Plan, answered some questions about the funding for CleanTechnica.

$314 million is for light-duty electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Can you estimate about how many new EV chargers that will be?

It will depend a lot on the ratio of DC fast chargers-to-Level 2 (or even level 1) that we end up funding, and how our incentive levels evolve over time. We expect these funds will help us close the remaining gap to the state’s 2025 goal of 250,000 public or shared chargers, but at this point we are not predicting a specific number of chargers.  We would encourage anyone interested in learning more to attend our two workshops on December 2: the first will focus on Clean Transportation Program funding in general, and the second will focus on potential funding opportunities for light-duty EV charging.

At this point, is it known where the EV chargers will be installed? For example, the LA metro area is obviously huge and has major air pollution issues. Will that be a key focus area to add a very large number of new EV chargers?

We have committed that at least 50% of our program’s funds will benefit low-income and disadvantaged communities (defined in part by pollution burden).  We also expect that areas with higher vehicle populations and higher EV adoption (such as the LA metro area) will see more chargers.  On the medium- and heavy-duty side (which is responsible for an outsized share of air pollution), we currently do not know the exact sites of the anticipated chargers, but we will certainly be considering air quality impacts in developing project types and regions.  The Clean Transportation Program recently awarded 45 blueprint planning grants with the intent to identify actions and milestones needed for implementation of MD/HD zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) and the related charging and/or hydrogen refueling infrastructure. These plans will help recipients identify where chargers should be located and how to scale infrastructure in large numbers.  A handful of those blueprints will specifically focus on the LA area, including for ZEV infrastructure needs along the I-710 corridor and in the Los Angeles region in preparation for the 2028 Olympic games.

For the 1,000 zero-emission school buses and 1,000 zero-emission transit buses, when will they be purchased and be operating on California roads and highways? Will they replace gas and diesel buses or will they be added to the existing fleets?

Purchase of 1,000 zero-emission school buses and transit buses will be administered and deployed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). However, the CEC will be administering funding for the supporting infrastructure for these zero-emission vehicles. CEC is currently collaborating very closely with CARB to coordinate deployment of the electric school buses and associated infrastructure installed in California.

 The school and transit buses being purchased will be operating on California roads and highways. The buses being purchased will replace gas and diesel buses and some will also be adding to existing zero-emission fleets.

Will the 1,000 zero-emission drayage trucks replace current diesel drayage trucks at ports? And how soon will they be operational?

Our hope and the goal of N-79-20 is that these zero-emission drayage trucks being purchased will replace the current diesel drayage trucks at ports. It is likely that these new drayage trucks will be operational by 2023. This will give fleets some time to begin installing the necessary infrastructure.

The Clean Transportation Program recently funded five drayage truck and infrastructure pilot projects, in partnership with the California Air Resources Board.   

$244 million is for ZEV manufacturing. Does ZEV manufacturing here mean the making of electric vehicles for consumers, manufacturing of ZEVs for industry or both? Is there a target number for ZEVs produced or is the funding meant to support ZEV manufacturers so they can use the funds as they see fit?

These funds will be used to increase in-state manufacturing of zero-emission vehicles (ZEV), zero-emission vehicle components, and zero-emission vehicle charging or refueling equipment.  ZEVs in this case could include light-, medium-, or heavy-duty vehicles, passenger vehicles, transit vehicles, freight vehicles, etc.  There is no fixed target for the number of ZEVs produced.  ZEV (and ZEV-related) manufacturers will be expected to submit applications to the CEC describing how they will use CEC funds to expand (or relocate) manufacturing and production lines in California.

$690 million is for medium- and heavy-duty ZEV infrastructure (battery-electric and hydrogen). Is this funding for use at ports and railways or are there other sites as well?

The CEC MD/HD ZEV infrastructure funding will be used at various locations throughout California, including but not limited to ports, railways, airports, along corridors, depots, school districts, transit agencies, and locations that may benefit from shared on-road MD/HD ZEV infrastructure.

Does the funding support the operation of ZEV semi tractor trailers for cargo transportation?

The Clean Transportation Program and General Fund funding will support the purchase and installation of the ZEV infrastructure that can support the operation of ZEV semi-tractor trailers but will not go towards the purchase of the individual ZEV semi-tractor trailers.

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