California passes a series of clean transportation laws
In the closing days of September, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a series of bills advancing the state’s clean vehicle initiatives. One law, AB 8, extends funding for many of the state’s vehicle-efficiency programs and mandates increased deployment of hydrogen fueling stations. Additionally, the Governor signed two bills—AB 1092 and SB 454—that each provide for greater, more efficient access to electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. Governor Brown also signed SB 359 and SB 459, which increase funding to rebate programs for low-emission vehicle purchases and upgrades, as well as rebates for early vehicle retirements. Finally, the governor signed AB 266 and SB 286, extending the state’s program to issue special High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) stickers to owners of plug-in hybrids and zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs).
Extension of Clean Vehicle Programs
AB 8 clears the way for 10-year extensions of several clean vehicle rebates enacted by AB 118 in 2007, including the Air Quality Improvement Program and the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program. The law enables these extensions to clean vehicle programs by authorizing increases to vehicle registration fees and surcharges into 2024. The law further authorizes the California Energy Commission to supersede the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in managing the deployment of 100 new hydrogen-fueling stations over the next 10 years using $20 million annually. The law also provides a new source of funding for the Carl Moyer Memorial Air Quality Standards Attainment Program by establishing a new $0.75 surcharge on tire purchases, which is projected to raise $34 million over the next 10years.
Under SB 359, CARB will receive an additional $48 million in 2014 to continue funding monetary incentives administered through the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project and the Enhanced Fleet Modernization Program (EFMP). The new law focuses on voluntary trade-ins of high-polluting vehicles by supplying $1,000 rebates to EFMP participants, and $1,500 rebates to EFMP participants with a household income at or below 225 percent of the federal poverty level. SB 459 requires CARB to update EFMP guidelines by June 30, 2015. In doing so, CARB is authorized to increase the value of early vehicle retirement and replacement rebates for low-income participants beyond existing limits of $1,500 and $2,500, respectively.
Development of Electric Vehicle Infrastructure
California’s EV charging infrastructure got a boost from AB 1092 and SB 454. Under AB 1092, the California Building Standards Commission assumes responsibility for mandating the installation of EV charging infrastructure in parking spaces of multifamily and nonresidential buildings in the next California Building Standards Code, slated for adoption in 2014. SB 454 broadens access to EV charging stations by requiring open access to stations without purchasing a subscription or obtaining a membership to an association. Further, SB 454 requires EV charging station operators to accept payment from credit cards or mobile-based payment applications. Both laws fulfill Governor Brown’s Executive Order on March 23, 2013 to facilitate the deployment of 1.5 million ZEVs on the road by 2025.
HOV Sticker Programs
SB 286 extends the state’s HOV sticker program for plug-in hybrid vehicles and ZEVs through 2019. Under SB 286, the HOV sticker program will issue an additional 40,000 “green stickers” to those applicants operating partial-ZEVs, and issue an unlimited amount of “white stickers” to applicants operating vehicles that meet California super ultra-low emission vehicle standard, as well as the national inherently low-emission vehicle (ILEV) evaporative emission standard.