Saturday, September 17, 2016

California Lifts Limit on Green Clean Air HOV Decals

Per California State Bill 838, signed by Governor Jerry Brown on September 13, 2016, the limit on Green Clean Air Decals allowing qualifying single-occupancy vehicles to use High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV)-only lanes on California highways has been lifted. 

Previously, the green decals (issued to vehicle's satisfying California Air Resources Board's requirements for Transitional Zero-Emission Vehicles - primarily plug-in hybrid vehicles) were issued in finite batches. 40,000 decals were initially provisioned, and three subsequent state bills have issued extended the number of decals issued to a total of 85,000 as of June 2015.

Excerpted from SB-838:
Existing federal law, until September 30, 2019, authorizes a state to allow specified labeled low-emission and energy-efficient vehicles to use lanes designated for high-occupancy vehicles (HOVs). Existing federal law, until September 30, 2025, grants similar authority with respect to alternative fuel and electric vehicles.
Existing law authorizes the Department of Transportation to designate certain lanes for the exclusive use of HOVs, which lanes may also be used, until January 1, 2019, the expiration of a designated federal authorization relating to HOV facilities, or until the Secretary of State receives a specified notice, by certain low-emission, hybrid, or alternative fuel vehicles not carrying the requisite number of passengers otherwise required for the use of an HOV lane, if the vehicle displays a valid identifier issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Existing law authorizes the DMV to issue no more than 85,000 of those identifiers. A violation of provisions relating to HOV lane use by vehicles with those identifiers is a crime.
This bill would delete the maximum number of identifiers that the DMV is authorized to issue. The bill would extend the operation of the above provisions for super ultra-low emission vehicles and ultra-low emission vehicles, as defined, to January 1, 2019. However, with respect to vehicles that meet the state’s enhanced advanced technology partial zero-emission vehicle standard or transitional zero-emission vehicle standard, the provisions would be operative only until the earlier of January 1, 2019, the date of the federal authorization, or the receipt date of the notice by the Secretary of State. The bill would require the Department of Transportation to prepare and submit a report to the Legislature by December 1, 2017, on the degradation status of high-occupancy vehicle lanes on the state highway system.
So green decals will again be issued, beginning with applicants who had already submitted paperwork and have been in a queue awaiting the possible issuance of additional decals. 

California Clean Vehicle Rebate Program (CVRP) Gets Funding for 2016-17!

The California Clean Vehicle Rebate Program encourages residents of the state to drive zero-emission or plug-in hybrid light-duty vehicles by providing cash rebates of up to $2,500 for EVs (and up to $5,000 for hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles). 

In June of 2016, funding for the California Clean Vehicle Rebate Program stalled as the State of California failed to resolve its budget. CVRP applicants were informed that they would be placed on a waitlist, and if the state eventually approved funding, checks would be issued to waitlisted applicants in chronological order.

On September 14, 2016, California lawmakers approved Assembly Bill 1613, which provides $133 million in new funding to cover waitlisted CVRP applications and applications made during the 2016-2017 fiscal year. Checks will begin to be issued immediately to waitlisted applicants, according to a CVRP representative I spoke to yesterday at AltCar Expo

AB-1613 will also introduce income cap restrictions on CVRP applicants, apparently in response to complaints that CVRP funds were being inequitably sapped by high-income households purchasing Tesla Model S and Model X products, thus depriving low- and middle-income families from participation (which was particularly pointed when the program actually ran out of funding). Effective starting November 2016, CVRP rebates will only be available to filers with joint income under $300,000 and individual filers with incomes under $150K.  

$80 million of the newly approved California budget will be directed toward the new Plus-up Program, which provides rebates of $5,000 to $9,500 (an additional $2,500 rebate is available to purchasers of new eligible zero-emission vehicles - California's incentive to put more EVs into the ecosystem) to lower-income applicants who turn in higher-polluting vehicles (over 8 years old, which must then be scrapped) and purchase low- and zero-emissions replacement vehicles. Eligible participants choosing not to replace their vehicle can opt for a mass-transit voucher worth $2,500 to $4,500, depending upon income level. 

Funds for AB-1613 are generated by cap-and-trade revenue, wherein the State of California penalizes corporate entities for exceeding greenhouse gas quotas, and purposes those funds for pollution-reducing projects such as the CVRP.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Japan Has More Electric Charging Stations Than Gas Stations

According to this article from Transport Evolved, Japan now has more public and private charging points than gas stations. The article says Nissan claims 40,000 charging sites, versus 34,000 gas stations.