leafHybrid and electric cars can make a huge difference in reducing local air quality, and can help their owners save money while staying more insulated against the volatility of fossil fuel prices. Unfortunately, most plug-in electric cars cost more than the used cars that lower-income families and communities — the people who could most benefit from EV fuel savings, in other words — can typically afford. It doesn’t have to be that way, however, and California’s Air Resource Board (CARB) is working to help low-income families get access to EVs by proposing vouchers for such families starting at $2500.
CARB’s vouchers address the fact that the average US household spends on average anywhere between $9,000 and $10,000 each year on transportation energy — for a single-earner making $20-30K per year, that number represents a serious lack of mobility and freedom. With net operating costs approaching zero for cars like Nissan’s Leaf in some cases, electric car ownership could go a long way towards enabling low-income wage earners to get better education, as well as better access to healthy food and healthcare.
These low-income families would also be able to get to a number of private-sector jobs that, without an EV, would be off-limits to them. That means they’d quickly pay back CARB’s $2500 voucher through increased income, payroll, and sales taxes (as they participate in the economy to a greater degree). Not a bad investment for California at all, if you ask me!
It’s also worth noting that, while this is not the first voucher program CARB has created, it is the first that specifically targets low-income families who would like to reduce their carbon footprint and transportation costs through the benefits electric cars offer, but currently can’t.
Here’s more on the official CARB program in official-sounding law-talk, with more specific numbers explained. Enjoy!
This CARB program would be part of the Extension of Clean Vehicle Programs and covers the following;
AB 8 clears the way for 10-year extensions of several clean vehicle rebates enacted by AB 118 in 2007, including the Air Quality Improvement Program and the Alternative, Enhance Fleet Modernization Program and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program. The new law focuses on voluntary trade-ins of high-polluting vehicles by supplying $1,000 incentives to EFMP participants, and $1,500 incentives to EFMP participants with a household income at or below 225 percent of the federal poverty level. SB 459 also called for specific steps to ensure vehicle replacement in areas designated as federal extreme non-attainment.
The law enables these extensions to clean vehicle programs by authorizing increases to vehicle registration fees and surcharges into 2024. The law further authorizes the California Energy Commission to supersede the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in managing the deployment of 100 new hydrogen-fueling stations over the next 10 years using $20 million annually. The law also provides a new source of funding for the Carl Moyer Memorial Air Quality Standards Attainment Program by establishing a new $0.75 surcharge on tire purchases, which is projected to raise $34 million over the next 10 years.
Under SB 359, CARB will receive an additional $48 million in 2014 to continue funding monetary incentives administered through the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project and the Enhanced Fleet Modernization Program (EFMP). The new law focuses on voluntary trade-ins of high-polluting vehicles by supplying $1,000 rebates to EFMP participants, and $1,500 rebates to EFMP participants with a household income at or below 225 percent of the federal poverty level. SB 459 requires CARB to update EFMP guidelines by June 30, 2015. In doing so, CARB is authorized to increase the value of early vehicle retirement and replacement rebates for low-income participants beyond existing limits of $1,500 and $2,500, respectively.
Source: CARB, via Car News Cafe.