Governor Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that he would be adding another $6.1 billion to his $3.9 billion zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) program created last year to ramp up electric vehicle adoption and infrastructure for when California stops the sale of gas-powered vehicles in 2035 and to becoming carbon-free utility-wise by 2045.
Under the now $10 billion combined plan, Newsom has focused on several areas where electric vehicle usage and infrastructure would generally be lower without state support. One such area is low-income neighborhoods. According to his plan, $256 million will go toward subsidies for electric vehicles for low-income people with another $900 million going towards ZEV infrastructure in those neighborhoods such as high-power fast charging stations and at-home charging options. Another $419 million would be going to zero-emission mobility projects in the same areas, such as sustainable transportation and equity projects.
Heavy vehicles such as trucks and buses will also see significant state investment. In addition to the 2,000 buses already being purchased as a result of the first part of the plan announced in September, California will pay an additional $935 million to add another 1,000 short-haul trucks and 1,700 buses to the state’s fleet. School buses will specifically see a $1.5 billion injection to rapidly switch over school district fleets, with another $1.1 billion going to buy more miscellaneous needed ZEV trucks, buses, and off road equipment, along with more charging stations. Ports would also not be ignored, with $400 million going to electrification programs there.
Finally, high carbon-emitting areas such as ports, airports, and rail lines would see $200 million go towards pilot programs and demonstrations to bring zero-emissions solutions to these areas and gradually reduce their carbon footprints.
Governor Newsom pointed out several needs during a press conference in Palo Alto on Wednesday, including reducing oil dependence and having more ZEV owners in place to fight climate change, boosting the growing electric vehicle industry in California, and to prepare for the end of gas-powered vehicle sales in 13 years.
“The future is electric, and we’re making it easier and cheaper than ever before to go electric,” the Governor said in a statement. “That means more assistance to help folks buy clean cars and more charging stations in more communities throughout the state. California is eliminating our dependence on oil and providing a blueprint for the entire world on how to aggressively fight the climate crisis while growing the state’s clean energy economy.”
California and companies like @Ford are making zero-emission vehicles more accessible than ever before.
— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) January 27, 2022
A $10 billion combined plan
Environmental groups praised the Governor’s additional allocation on Wednesday, specifically noting how the focus on low-income areas would help boost those areas now before becoming a critical need in the future.
“To achieve California’s climate goals we must focus on the needs of the most polluted and underserved neighborhoods. Governor Newsom’s ZEV investment proposal recognizes this reality,” said Alvaro Sanchez, Vice President of Policy at The Greenlining Institute. “We’re excited to work with the Governor and the Legislature to prove to the rest of the country that we can not only advance our climate agenda but also advance equity.”
However, critics pointed out that Newsom’s additional funding ignores general consumers when it comes to personal cars, as well as pumping in billions into a system that would otherwise organically grow with demand.
“Besides maybe the charging stations, this bill ignores average Californian driver,” explained Jim Cohen, a Los Angeles -based lawyer who has dealt with electric vehicle lawsuits in the past, to the Globe on Thursday. “While some rebates are currently available for ZEV purchases, there’s nothing here that would boost consumers to buy more than currently available. Californians know the electric vehicle revolution is coming and have been buying more and more. But rather let it happen naturally, California just keeps speeding the whole thing up, with many not being ready for this huge change. The state should be focusing on areas ready for the change and spread out from there, have more localized and spreading adoption. Under this, they expect everyone to get on board all over, even though that is far from the case.”
The new allocated funds are expected to be dispersed soon.