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California EV Regulation Raises Funding Questions

The Helix Water District will eventually need to transition all of its diesel-powered work cars to electric vehicles.

SAN DIEGO – A California regulation requiring government agencies to transition from diesel-fueled work cars to electric vehicles is raising questions about how to access funding for the new vehicles.

Helix Water District in East San Diego County is a government agency that has had to figure out how to pay for all electric cars to meet new state requirements.

“It’s not something you can get the regulations in one night and build a project the next day. These things take time,” said Kevin Miller, director of operations for Helix Water District.

The Helix Water District helps provide water to East County residents. Most of their clients are low income.

Miller said at one point one of the biggest concerns was whether their rates would increase due to the transition to electric vehicles.

The company has around 800 vehicles, mostly vans and heavy trucks.

Over time, not only will all vehicles need to be replaced, but the company will also need to build the proper infrastructure to maintain an electric fleet.

Details of the Advanced Clean Fleet regulation

The California Air Resources Board approved the Advanced Clean Fleet regulation in April 2023. Beginning January 1, 2024, it requires some fleets to make 50% of their annual vehicle purchases with zero emissions. By January 1, 2027, the regulation requires 100% of vehicle purchases at state and local government agencies to be zero emissions.

“While trucks represent only 6% of vehicles on California roads, they account for more than 35% of the state’s transportation-generated nitrogen oxide emissions and a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions in the state. the state’s highways, making them a key sector in meeting the state’s clean air and public health goals,” California Air Resources Board Information Officer Kate Lamb said in a statement. .

“While deployment of zero-emission options begins in 2024, the rule has some provisions and flexibilities that were developed as part of comments received during an extensive public process, including two paths to meet requirements and the ability to continue using existing internal requirements. combustion engine vehicles throughout their useful life,” Lamb said in the statement.

Here is more information from the state air resources board on the Advanced Clean Fleet regulation:

  • “The Advanced Clean Fleet (ACF) regulation includes a gradual shift to zero-emission fleets for fleets of state or local government agencies called the ZEV Purchase Program.
    • Starting January 1, 2024, certain fleets must ensure that 50 percent of their annual vehicle purchases per calendar year are zero emissions.
    • Starting January 1, 2027, 100 percent of vehicle purchases are zero-emission.
  • In lieu of the ZEV purchase schedule, state and local governments can choose to permanently use the ZEV milestone option if they prefer the flexibility of phasing in ZEVs based on the suitability of different vehicles in their fleets. Under the ZEV Milestones option, fleets can choose to meet ZEV targets as a percentage of the total fleet, starting with vehicle types that are best suited for zero emissions.
  • Under both options, fleets can continue to use their existing fleets for the life of the vehicle and are not required to discontinue use of these vehicles in 2027.
  • When a fleet owner cannot comply due to circumstances beyond their control, the regulation includes a variety of provisions such as ZEV availability, vehicles operated less than 1,000 miles per year, infrastructure delays, vehicles involved in accidents , vehicles under mutual aid. agreements and ZEVs that do not meet the needs of daily use. More information about these exemptions is available at: Summary of Advanced Clean Fleet Regulation Extensions and Exemptions | California Air Resources Board
  • All CARB regulations are developed in a public process with stakeholder participation that continues throughout the implementation of the regulations. As part of the initial implementation of the ACF, CARB hosts the Truck Regulatory Implementation Group (TRIG). The TRIG is divided into four subgroups (Border, Infrastructure, Standards Provisions and Disclosure) and is intended to facilitate constructive dialogue to address regulatory implementation challenges and develop recommendations and action items on key issues.
  • CARB has a long history of encouraging early adoption of the cleanest technology available. To that end, incentive and grant programs to encourage early adoption have been part of CARB’s programs for more than 20 years.
  • There may be several financing sources available to assist with the switch to ZEV vehicles depending on vehicle weight and specific circumstances. CARB currently has a Cal Fleet Advisor program, which is a no-cost service that provides guidance to fleets, independent owner-operators, and school buses in navigating to ZEVs.
  • “ACF is expected to generate $26.5 billion in statewide health benefits from improved air quality and save fleet owners an estimated $48.0 billion through 2050.”

SEE RELATED: Tax incentives for electric vehicles will change in 2024 (November 20, 2023)