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Friday, September 24, 2021

City of Sacramento receives $1.8 million grant for electric vehicle infrastructure

Sacramento to continue its goal of becoming a California zero-emission vehicle capital

The California Energy Commission chose the City of Sacramento to receive a $1.8 million grant, aiding the city’s ongoing efforts to become a zero-emission vehicle capital of California. 

As part of the second phase of the California Energy Commission’s (CEC’s) EV Ready Communities Challenge, different communities submitted blueprints for transitioning to zero-emission. Sacramento was then selected to receive funding to begin work on electric vehicle infrastructure. 

Deputy Director of the Fuels and Transportation Division at the California Energy Commission Hannon Rasool explained the process by which they choose grant applicants

“We really strive to have a transparent process so that we can make sure we are designing to the needs of both the state and local communities,” Rasool said. “For this specific solicitation, we were looking for robust and well-thought-out implementation strategies as well as team qualifications, experience, project budget and project benefits in terms of greenhouse gas reduction.” 

Rasool explained that providing equitable access to electric vehicle technologies is essential to the CEC’s mission. 

“We look at not just where the chargers are, but who has access to them,” Rasool said. “We want to make sure that low-income and rural communities don’t get left behind. Electric vehicles are cheaper. Not only are they good for the environment, they’re good for the individual because the operating costs are much lower.”

In addition to the environmental and personal benefits, Rasool described how providing electric vehicle infrastructure is also a matter of public health. 

“We know that transportation is the leading emitter of greenhouse gasses in the state— 50% of emissions—but It’s also an equity and a local public health concern,” Rasool said. “Diesel vehicles, especially trucks and buses, emit a lot of emissions that cause cancer and asthma. Local health issues are disproportionately borne by those in disadvantaged and low-income communities.”

Rasool further explained that investing in electric vehicles also has the potential to improve California’s economy. 

“Right now, there are 34 entities within California which manufacture zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) and infrastructure that is a part of the ZEV economy,” Rasool said. “Zero-emission vehicles were also the number one export for California in 2020. They bring a lot of good-paying jobs in construction and engineering.” 

Director of Communications and External Affairs at the CEC Lindsay Buckley explained that the goal of a zero emissions California is ultimately a multilateral one. 

“There are a lot of cooks in the electric vehicle kitchen,” Buckley said. “For example, the organization VELOZ is an effort where all of the state agencies involved in this work along with utility companies and car companies are coming together around a public service campaign to raise awareness about the availability of these vehicles and the rebates.”

In addition to the funds provided by the CEC, the Sacramento Metro Air District has committed $650,000 to the installation of electric-vehicle chargers. 

Transportation and Climate Change Manager at Sacramento Metro Air Quality Jamie Lemus explained that this project has been developing for a long time. 

“A lot of time, effort and networking has gone into this project over the years,” Lemus said. “We started with a project called CarShare, and over the years there have been different efforts from different partners. This project is really exciting because it brought all the players together.” 

Lemus described what it means for Sacramento to become a zero-emissions capital, and what the next steps are in achieving this goal. 

“The idea is to make chargers as normal as gasoline stations,” Lemus said. “Within the City of Sacramento, we have to normalize [EV charging stations] and educate the community. We still have a lot of work to do.” 

Lemus said that Sac Metro Air District is also undoing a legacy of systemic disinvestment in certain communities. 

“Redlining has historically created some land-use sectors that were heavily invested in and others that were not,” Lemus said. “We need to locate these areas and do what we can to provide relief to disinvested communities.” 

Lemus explained that one way local and state governments are attempting to remedy this disinvestment is through programs that provide EV transportation to low-income individuals. 

“The California Air Resources Board’s program, Clean Cars 4 All, provides some lower-income communities the opportunity to get into an electric vehicle by providing a cash incentive of up to $9,500 towards a new car,” Lemus said. 

Lemus explained that the move towards a zero-emission California will require every resident’s participation. 

“We have the largest zero-emission school bus fleet in the nation—but people don’t know,” Lemus said. “We need to expand the mentality of carsharing and public transportation not just out of necessity, but because it’s easy and an option. Ride our bikes, drive electric cars. Let’s do what we need to do because it’s our responsibility to the next generation.” 
Written by: Yan Yan Hustis Hayes — city@theaggie.org

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