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EV Equity—Working to Ensure We All Benefit from the Transition to Clean Transportation

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Energy Foundation made its first grant to Communities for a Better Environment in 2013.

More than 420,000 electric vehicles (EVs) had been sold in California as of July 20181, a significant milepost on our way toward an electrified transportation future. But many state residents can’t afford a new car or live in apartments that don’t have chargers available. In addition, poorer communities often face higher levels of air pollution. To establish a transportation system that benefits all people, California must prioritize the mobility needs of lower-income households.

Communities for a Better Environment is fighting for EV equity as a member of the Charge Ahead California Campaign. Launched in 2013, the campaign has helped to raise awareness among decision-makers and the public about the benefits and opportunities for all people as we transition to clean transportation. In addition to Communities for a Better Environment, the campaign includes Greenlining Institute, Coalition for Clean Air, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Environment California.

“We need more clean transportation options for communities that are on the frontlines of pollution impacts.”

Bahram Fazeli, Director of Research and Policy, Communities for a Better Environment

The campaign advocates for policies that help establish programs such as BlueLA, an EV car-sharing service operated in partnership with the California Air Resources Board and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. BlueLA plans to operate a network of 100 EVs and 200 EV chargers over 40 locations across central Los Angeles by the end of 2018. Locations were chosen to benefit communities with low incomes that are also most vulnerable to pollution from traffic or industrial sources.

“We are starting to see many more EVs and lower-carbon vehicles on the road across California as a result of hard-fought wins over the past decade,” said Patty Monahan, Program Director, Transportation at Energy Foundation. “We’re determined to ensure that disadvantaged communities participate in and benefit from this transition.”

The Charge Ahead campaign is positioning California as a model for EV equity. Low-moderate income households receive an additional $2,000 rebate when purchasing EVs. There is also an incentive program that encourages residents to retire their older cars and replace them with cleaner models. For example, Replace Your Ride helps people purchase hybrid or electric vehicles if they meet certain income criteria and live in specific high-pollution areas. In May 2018, the California Public Utilities Commission approved $738 million for transportation electrification projects.