Preparing for A Generation of Electric Vehicles: Incentives and Infrastructure Development

Growing popularity of zero and near-zero emission vehicles among consumers and car manufacturers has not gone unnoticed by the legislature.  The 2017 legislative session revealed a push in favor of increasing the amount of such vehicles in the State through purchase incentive and tax deduction programs, as well as widespread installation of electric charging infrastructures.

The proposed legislation supports the existing emission reduction Air Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) and the million electric car Charge Ahead California Initiative (CACI), two measures that facilitate a future where most, if not all Californians, own and regularly use zero or near-zero emission vehicles. The Air Quality Improvement Program is a voluntary incentive program, created by AB 118 (2007) and administered by the State Air Resources Board, that works to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions by funding clean vehicle, equipment projects, and research on alternative fuels and air quality.  The Charge Ahead California Initiative, created by AB 1275 (2014), sets goals of placing in service at least 1,000,000 zero-emission and near-zero-emission vehicles by January 1, 2023, and in doing so, increase access to such vehicles for disadvantaged, low-income, and moderate-income communities and consumers. This post will provide a brief analysis of the relevant provisions by category.

Incentives and Tax Deductions

Because the legislature cannot meet its climate protection objectives by simply creating programs that set theoretical pollution reduction targets, proposed legislation aims to help consumers and businesses obtain the means to make achieving these goals a reality.  In accord with the trend discussed in our last blog, AB 964 creates the California Affordable Clean Vehicle Program (CACVP) to assist low-income or high financial risk individuals with their purchase of near-zero-emission vehicles.  The CACVP’s Fund receive $50,000,000 from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, to be appropriated for loan assistance to qualified purchasers.  AB 1341 also seeks to expedite the Charge Ahead California Initiative goal of greenhouse gas reduction to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.  It provides a Personal Income tax credit to qualified taxpayers who purchase a zero or near-zero emission vehicle between 2018 and 2026.

In addition to private purchasers of zero and near-zero emission vehicles, the 2017 legislative session yielded efforts to facilitate the widespread use of such vehicles in fleets and commercial facets.  Currently, the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, under the Air Quality Improvement Program, provides rebates to fleet purchasers of new zero-emission vehicles.  The Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project, similarly provides vouchers to help California fleets purchase hybrid and zero-emission trucks and buses.  Though these incentives have not been unsuccessful in the aggregate, they provide no tangible goal for vehicle fleet purchasers.  In response, SB 498 requires that the State Air Resources Board set achievable electric vehicle targets for owners of public and private sector vehicle fleets, and provide owners with information necessary to meet these targets.  Below is a non-exhaustive list of relevant bills:

Purchase and Tax Incentives:

  • SB 498: Vehicle Fleets: Electric Vehicles
  • AB 964: California Affordable Clean Vehicle Program
  • AB 1081: Sales and Use Taxes: Exclusion Low-Emission Motor Vehicle Trade-In
  • AB 1341: Vehicular Air Pollution: Tax Deductions for Zero or Near-Zero Emission Vehicles
  • SB 79: Advanced Technology Parking Incentive Programs Report


Electric Charging Infrastructure Installation

Given the possible momentum that may result from new incentivized purchase programs, the 2017 session offered legislation that would prepare the State for the upshot of zero and near-zero emission vehicles in use with a major reliance on investor owner utilities.

AB 1082 aims to continue the direct involvement of utilities in electric vehicle charger infrastructure development.  AB 1082 requires electrical corporations – such as SDG&E, PG&E, and Southern California Edison – to propose programs for charging station installation at schools and, upon the California Public Utilities Commission’s approval of a program, install and maintain these charging stations.  Similarly, AB 1083 requires electrical corporations to develop charging infrastructure programs for all State parks and beaches within the corporation’s service territory that, upon approval, must be installed and maintained by the corporation.

While AB’s 1082 and 1083 apply exclusively to public sector installations, AB 1239 requires the California Building Standards Commission and the Department of Housing and Community Development to adopt mandatory building standards that account for future installations of electric vehicle charging infrastructures, specifically for parking spaces in multifamily dwellings, that abide by the California Green Building Standards Code.  Long term achievement of these goals will be achieved in part through future legislation under AB 1679, which seeks to expand travel range for zero-emission vehicles through additional infrastructure installation throughout the State.  These bills build upon the streamlined permitting for electric vehicle charges required by AB 1236 (2015).  Below is a non-exhaustive list of relevant bills:

Infrastructure Policies and Development for Widespread Deployment

  • AB 1082: Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure: Schools
  • AB 1083: Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure: State Parks and Beaches
  • AB 1239: Installation of Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure
  • AB 1531: Public Utilities: Plug-In Hybrid and Electric Vehicles
  • AB 1679: Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

For additional information on bills introduced during the 2017 session, please visit EPIC’s Legislative Center.

The post was drafted by Jessica Kirshner with minor editing by Joe Kaatz.  Jessica is currently a 1L at the University of San Diego School of Law.

About Joe Kaatz

Staff Attorney at the Energy Policy Initiatives Center, University of San Diego School of Law.
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