Clean Technica January 20th, 2018 by Nicolas Zart
Love the state or hate it, California is a green electric mobility bastion of projects, programs, and innovations. And the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) just approved no less than 15 utility pilot programs to accelerate the widespread electrification of mobility.
We pay a lot of taxes in California. But some of that high price goes toward building a more sustainable future, despite the political shenanigans of Washington D.C. Part of a state budget of $43 million, California is forging ahead with a clean energy bill adopted in 2015, according to National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). And that’s only the beginning of what has the petroleum industry in turmoil. The CPUC is considering another $1 billion in larger utility programs to electrify vehicles (EV), larger medium and heavy-duty trucks, buses, forklifts, and more.
One interesting fact is that the pilot programs approved will generally go toward disadvantaged communities. Historically, these communities have been shut out of affordable high-quality transportation, and new electric mobility flash is nothing but a pipe dream. Those communities have been exposed also to dangerous levels of air pollution. These pilot programs will send old cars to the junkyard and help these communities jump into a new transportation era perhaps faster than the masses.
The CPUC isn’t stopping there either. It is leading an extensive regulatory process that is looking into the merits of a $1 billion full-scale program that is still pending. It will determine if those programs are in the interest of utility customers.
What’s particularly exciting about this news is that the commission is looking into safer, more reliable, or less costly services through the electrification of vehicles. It is examining how renewable energy is pushing utility system costs down, which hopefully will lower the electricity rates for utility company customers. In other words, it looks like the CPUC is siding again with its residents and away from corporate interest. At least, we can hope for that.
On The Crossline — Petroleum Companies
California hopes to generate at least half of its electricity from renewable resources by 2030 and double its savings from energy efficiency within 15 years, if not sooner. Senate Bill (SB) 350 is aiming squarely at petroleum companies. Essentially, Senator Kevin de León’s provision aims to replace oil as the main transportation fuel in the state. The bill aims to allow Californians to “fill up” at home on cleaner electricity that’s the cost equivalent of $1 a gallon of gas. The bill concludes with: “Widespread transportation electrification requires electrical corporations to increase access to the use of electricity as a transportation fuel.”
A recent analysis found that mass adoption of EVs — including cars, trucks, and buses — would cut California’s petroleum use by 18% by 2030. This is something California would love to do, and needs to do.
The white elephant in the room is that of lack of governance and the undemocratic power petroleum lobbies have over the state government are a threat to our society. The electric industry is heavily regulated, unlike that of the fossil fuel industry, which enjoys copious tax breaks.
The California bill goes a step further and allows the CPUC to order the electric utilities to accelerate the widespread switch to electric mobility in order to reduce dependency on petroleum. This also allows the CPUC to force utilities to meet air quality standards and align the state with the Charge Ahead California initiative.
All of this also falls into the state’s aim to reduce greenhouse emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, and 80% by 2050.
California, The Land Of The Plugged In Mobility
California wants its mobility to be plugged in and better regulated than the fossil fuel industry has been. Of course, this doesn’t mean that in a decade or less the energy industry will yield lobby pressures on the local governments. However, historically, California has been a forward-looking state with an accent on renewable energy and EVs, and this bill keeps up the trend.
Living in California might be a dream for many, but it is a costly one. It’s always good to hear when the state sides on the desire of a cleaner future, pushing renewable energy and EVs. With these pilot programs in place, we can only imagine how other states are scrambling to see how they can apply them to help lower the cost of transportation for their citizens, be it in terms of direct financial or environmental health costs. Let’s hope the pushback from the petroleum industry won’t derail this march forward and the newly invigorated utility and energy industry work intelligently together.
Propulsion eBox and finally a Tesla Roadster that the light went on. Eager to spread the news of that full torque, he started writing in 2007 for various CleanTech outlets. Since then, his passion led to cover renewable energy, test drives, podcasts, shoot pictures, and film for various international outlets both in print and online. Nicolas offers an in-depth look at the e-mobility world through interviews and the many contacts he has forged in those industries. Today he focuses most of his writing effort on CleanTechnica, a global online outlet that covers the world of electric vehicles and renewable energy. His favorite tagline is: “There are more solutions than obstacles.”