A bill was introduced in February to make electric vehicle charging stations more available for Californians, as well as increase electric vehicles (EVs) in disadvantaged communities.
Assembly Bill 2703, authored by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), would require those who are receiving state funding or incentives to build zero-emission fueling stations to comply with reliability standards developed by the California Energy Commission (CEC). While the standards would ensure charger reliability, they would also make sure that low-income area charging stations have the same standards.
In addition, AB 2703 would have the CEC create a new program to give financial assistance to low-income and disadvantaged community members to use zero-emission vehicle fueling stations, micromobility transportation options, and ridesharing service. Specifically, they would be given a debit card with a yet-to-be-determined amount to help offset public EV charging costs. If passed, these measures would be in place no later than July 1, 2023.
Assemblyman Muratsuchi wrote the bill to help offset the costs of EV charging for low-income people in California, specifically those in multi-unit housing who don’t have at-home chargers. In addition to helping pay for public charging, increase consumer confidence with more reliable chargers, and increase EV vehicle usage in low-income areas, Muratsuchi and supporters also said that the bill would help the state prepare more for the upcoming 2035 phase-out of all gas-powered cars.
“Electric vehicles are California’s future, and we need to make this transition to zero emission vehicles work for all Californians,” said Assemblyman Muratsuchi on Tuesday. “We need to level the playing field for all communities — especially those that have suffered from the worst air pollution. For this transition to work, EV charging infrastructure needs to be convenient, reliable and easy to operate as gas stations. We need to make sure that charging stations are made available in all communities, including historically disadvantaged communities. With this first-in-the-nation bill, California will lead the transition to clean transportation with convenience, reliability and equity.”
Another electric vehicle bill in Sacramento
While supported by many environmental and EV groups, others opposing the bill noted that it would force consumers to adopt certain vehicles, as well as ignore some of the main reasons for consumers refusing to adopt electric vehicles, such as range issues and long charge times.
“Charging a car near 0% power to full takes between 8 to 10 hours currently,” explained Jim Cohen, a Los Angeles -based lawyer who has dealt with electric vehicle lawsuits, to the Globe on Tuesday. “A gas powered or hybrid car that’s empty on gas? It’s a matter of minutes to fill up. And yes, you can make the argument that you can just plug-in your car overnight, but not many Californians who don’t own a home have that option. Some with homes don’t have it either. So you are going to make them reliant on charging stations.”
“Many make the argument that it’s just about topping up on a charge if you don’t wind it down, but that can be hell after a long trip or a vacation and then not having enough charge to get to work in the morning without a charger. And now they are aiming at low-income people to adopt these expensive and time-consuming measures. It’s crazy.”
“What they should do is focus on hybrids for awhile while the electric technology improves, then do a slow phase-in to make charging quicker, EV cars cheaper, and charging stations as convenient as gas stations. It’s not about reliability like Muratsuchi is trying to say. It’s about consumers wanting a lightning quick car charge that will last for over 500 miles. We need to do this for the environment, but the bill is just continuing California on the path of what it has been doing wrong.”
AB 2703 is expected to be heard in the Assembly Transportation Committee soon.
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