What New $1.4B CEC Funding Means to California

December 1, 2021 7:41 pm

November 30th, 2021

If you’re a Californian, this Thanksgiving season brought a lot to be thankful for, notwithstanding both the Rams and Chargers getting shellacked on the road nor the average 24% price increase of frozen turkeys. No, rather we’re referring to the three-year $1.4 billion funding initiative that was quietly approved by the California Energy Commission the week before the feast-filled holiday kicked off. The goal? Close the Golden State’s 2025 infrastructure funding gap and speed up the push toward Governor Newsom’s plan for a zero-emission “autopia.”

According to California’s Lead Commissioner for Transportation, Patty Monahan, the money is meant to ensure “access to charging… isn’t a barrier to those exploring cleaner transportation options including individuals, businesses and public agencies.” Almost 80% of the funding – some $1.08 billion – is allocated to electric charging and hydrogen fueling stations, and will be doled out to organizations like EVCS based on grants, solicitations, and direct funding agreements.

Our enthusiasm for the deal is largely due to the overlap between our mission and the initiative’s goals, namely the following:

1) Number of EV Chargers to Skyrocket

EVCS has long focused on reducing consumer concerns about range anxiety and infrastructure accessibility by expanding the number of publicly available chargers. Our strategy has been to install stations at key points of interest like freeway exits and on-ramps, shopping centers, parking structures, municipal buildings, offices and other commercial sites. These are the same types of sites where the CEC is looking for growth. With this additional funding, they estimate an additional 15,154 new chargers will go in the ground, an increase of 17% from the current 73,000 chargers the state has now.

2) A Focus on Fleets

Through 2021, California’s EV market share has been dominated by personal and light-duty vehicles, with medium- and heavy-duty vehicles historically slower to transition from traditional combustion engines. EVCS has been consistent in its position that without meaningful adoption by large-scale fleet operators, carbon neutral is unachievable, leading us to target educational, industrial, municipal and large-scale commercial institutions with infrastructure proposals. Thankfully, this new funding prioritizes fleet infrastructure like zero-emission school buses, transit buses and drayage trucks along with the chargers needed to power them.

3) Air Quality Improvement

“A mission to reduce emissions” has been the hallmark of EVCS since our founding, with the goal to create cleaner air and a more sustainable environment for the generations that will follow us. While major West Coast cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco have improved air quality over the last 30 years, they still remain some of the most polluted places in the nation. However, the new funding prioritizes the reduction of harmful airborne contaminants in frontline communities by focusing the greatest resources in those areas most affected, a strategy that coincides with our own efforts.

4) Low Income Neighborhoods to See Growth

Mass EV adoption is unlikely if only the wealthiest among us can afford to make the transition. Low- and middle-income earners need to feel as though going green will save them green, no matter how much they may believe in sustainability. Most choices start with the pocketbook. Charging installations must be ubiquitous and the electricity affordable. EVCS has made the development of disadvantaged communities a key part of our business model since our inception, so clearly, we were thrilled to see that no less than 51% of the CEC’s funds are allocated to servicing such areas.

Courtesy of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Our hope is that we can ultimately help the CEC lead the way in demonstrating what’s possible in the world of zero-emission transportation and that with any luck, it won’t be too many more Thanksgivings from now that we’ll be saying how grateful we are for a world where clean energy mobility is the norm instead of the ideal.

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