California State Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) and Charge Ahead CA supporters

If you're of the opinion that current federal and state support for electric vehicle shoppers in the US are really just hand-outs to the already well-to-do, you might like what California State Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) is up to. De Leon sponsored a bill earlier this year called the Charge Ahead California Initiative (State Bill 1275) which today passed the California Assembly by a vote of 46-23. The state Senate is expected to send the bill to Governor Edmund Brown soon.

The bill will "establish an income cap to stretch valuable public dollars to incentivize clean car purchases that would not otherwise occur."

What does Charge Ahead do differently? Well, it changes the already-popular and effective Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP) that hands out $2,500 to zero-emission vehicle purchasers to not only have a bigger funding pile but also to "establish an income cap to stretch valuable public dollars to incentivize clean car purchases that would not otherwise occur, and would step down rebate levels over time as technology costs decrease." The bill has ways to encourage going green as well as going car-free. If you are in the "low-income" category, then you can get a minimum of $2,500 for cashing in your clunker for a ZEV. If, on the other hand, you're a low-income resident getting rid of a car to shift to the car-free/carsharing lifestyle, then you will get a minimum of $1,500. All others get, at most, $1,000. These amounts are less than previously reported, but the final bill has not yet been signed. SB 1275 also supports new carsharing programs, new EV charging stations and, "provides access to financing options that would lower combined monthly car payments and fuel costs."

You can learn more about Charge Ahead in this PDF, read the bill here and see a press release below.
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California Assembly Passes Million Electric Vehicles Bill, Rebates for Low-Income Californians

Senate passed bill in May, expected to cast final vote to send bill to Governor

SACRAMENTO –The Charge Ahead California Initiative (SB 1275) cleared a critical hurdle today in passing the California Assembly by a vote of 46-23, putting the measure in a strong position to become law. The Senate, which overwhelmingly supported the bill authored by Senate President pro Tem-elect Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) in May, is expected to cast the final vote this month and send the bill to Governor Edmund G. Brown for signature.

Charge Ahead California puts the state on a path to one million zero-emission cars, trucks, and buses on our roadways-about ten times the current number-by 2023.

De León developed the legislation with the Charge Ahead California steering committee, a coalition of community-based organizations and conservation groups working together to expand clean transportation, promote job growth, and achieve air quality and climate goals. More than 50 influential California groups and businesses have indicated their support for the bill.

Advocates for low-income people and communities of color in California hailed the bill's innovative approaches to including people of all income levels in California's clean transportation future.

"This bill will make electric cars and car-sharing opportunities affordable to working families," said Vien Truong, Environmental Equity Director for The Greenlining Institute. "It will also let low-income families cash in their clunkers and use that voucher with clean car rebates or for car-sharing programs and public transportation. These options give urban and rural Californians of all income levels better transportation choices and a ticket to the clean-energy future," Truong said.

SB 1275 builds on the state's successful incentive programs, securing long-term funding for vehicle rebate programs and retooling them to put electric vehicle ownership within reach for low- and moderate-income buyers.

"Charge Ahead California will accelerate the most important revolution in automotive technology since we ditched the steam engine. Increasing access to the use of electricity as a transportation fuel will not only clean the air, but prevent pain at the pump because it's the cost equivalent of one-dollar-a-gallon gasoline," said Max Baumhefner, a clean vehicles and fuels expert with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Bahram Fazeli, Policy Director for Communities for a Better Environment, said his group supported targeting the bill's benefits to communities most impacted by air and climate pollution.

"Californians, especially those living in environmental justice communities, will benefit from reduced air pollution and gaining greater access to clean vehicles and green jobs. We applaud Senator De León's leadership and the visionary support of the California Assembly for laying the foundation for clean transportation and a clean economy," Fazeli said.

SB 1275 is advancing California's leadership as a national and global leader on innovative policies to respond to the threat of climate change.

"One of the most essential steps in halting climate change is to transition our vehicle fleet to electric vehicles," said Michelle Kinman, Clean Energy Advocate for Environment California. "Today, the California Assembly made a vital commitment to steer Californians toward a safer climate and a cleaner, healthier future for all. By putting the first million electric vehicles on our roads, California will create a tipping point for clean vehicle sales, significantly reduce global warming pollution, and lead the country towards a clean vehicle revolution," Kinman said.

Bill Magavern, Policy Director for the Coalition for Clean Air, supports the bill's comprehensive approach to reducing road pollution.

"Putting a million clean cars, trucks, and buses on our roads will bring much-needed relief to the millions of Californians who are still breathing unhealthy air," Magavern said. "SB 1275 by Senator De León, along with SB 1204 by Senators Lara and Pavley, will supercharge ongoing efforts by the Air Resources Board to stimulate development and deployment of the cleaner trucks and buses, as well as cars, that will be essential to meeting both health standards and greenhouse gas goals."

Key provisions of Charge Ahead California (SB 1275) include:

An extended and improved Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP). The CVRP has been instrumental in bringing a third of the nation's plug-in cars to California. The CVRP currently provides buyers with a $2,500 rebate for zero-emission purchases, but the program has been historically plagued by insufficient funding. SB 1275 would help secure the funding needed to ensure California is the first state in the nation with one million electric vehicles, establish an income cap to stretch valuable public dollars to incentivize clean car purchases that would not otherwise occur, and would step down rebate levels over time as technology costs decrease.

Increases access to clean transportation in disadvantaged communities. Establishes car-sharing programs, deploys charging stations in apartment complexes, provides access to financing options that would lower combined monthly car payments and fuel costs, and offers incentives for the replacement of gas-guzzling "clunkers" with new or used electric cars or vouchers for transit and car-sharing.

SB 1275, the Charge Ahead California Initiative, is sponsored by the Coalition for Clean Air, Communities for a Better Environment, Environment California, The Greenlining Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council. More supporters listed at http://ChargeAhead.org/supporters.