For Immediate Release: February 8, 2012
Media Contact: Adam Gottlieb - 916-654-4989


Central Coast Prepares for Electric Vehicles
With Energy Commission Grant

SACRAMENTO - Central Coast cities in Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties are about to become much more friendly to plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), thanks to a $200,000 planning grant from the California Energy Commission.

"Before cleaner, battery-powered vehicles can become an important part of California's transportation mix, drivers must feel confident they will find adequate charging stations when they need them," said Energy Commissioner Carla Peterman. "With this grant, local planners can decide where best to add chargers along the key Highway 101 transportation corridor that serves Northern and Southern California. Local governments can streamline the permitting, installation and inspection of plug-in chargers, and insure that consumers know about the charging improvements and the benefits provided by electric vehicles."

The $200,000 Energy Commission grant will allow the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District, the project's lead entity, to create "Plug-in Central Coast," a coordinating council of public and private leaders from counties, cities, public agencies, community organizations, private industry, higher education, and utilities. The council will help promote the use of plug-in electric vehicles in the tri-county area.

Members of Plug-in Central Coast include Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, along with their respective air-quality management districts who will provide a total of $50,000 in match funds; the Ventura County Transportation Commission; the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments; the Community Environmental Council, which serves as liaison to Plug-in Santa Barbara; the Central Coast Clean Cities Coalition; the Cities of Grover Beach, Arroyo Grande, Ventura, Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, and Ojai; and local utilities Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E).

"Utilities forecast that the Central Coast will be a strong early adopter of electric vehicles, and consistent regional planning is needed to encourage that development," said Commissioner Peterman. "With its extensive number of participating agencies, Plug-in Central Coast will help make the planning process uniform and transparent, open to ideas from a wide range of stakeholders."

Containing medium-sized cities, smaller towns and unincorporated communities, the tri-county area needs to create consistent permitting and inspection guidelines for PEV infrastructure. Currently there can be long wait times for inspectors to approve residential home chargers, and there is a lack of coordinated planning for complex installations at commercial properties, government facilities or multi-unit dwelling complexes. Utilities also must ensure that any infrastructure improvements made for electric vehicles do not cause supply problems on the local power grid.

This planning grant is one of four approved today by the Energy Commission's Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, which supports the use of sustainable transportation fuels. Similar grants went to the San Diego Association of Governments, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments - other areas of the state where electric vehicle use is expected to be heavy within the next ten years.

The California Air Resources Board recently unanimously approved regulations that require car manufacturers to cut smog emissions from new vehicles by 75 percent by 2025 and reduce greenhouse gases by 34 percent. To meet these goals, the number of plug-in battery electric vehicles in California is expected to double from current levels by 2013 and will reach 460,000 by 2020.

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Assembly Bill 118 (Núñez , Chapter 750, Statutes of 2007) created the California Energy Commission's Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program. The statute, amended by Assembly Bill 109 (Núñez , Chapter 313, Statutes of 2008), authorizes the Energy Commission to develop and deploy alternative and renewable fuels and advanced transportation technologies to help achieve the state's climate change policies. Under the statutes, the Energy Commission invests nearly $100 million a year in a variety of projects, leveraging existing federal, state and local funding and private investments in the process.

The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. Created by the Legislature in 1974 and located in Sacramento, six basic responsibilities guide the Energy Commission as it sets state energy policy: forecasting future energy needs; licensing thermal power plants 50 megawatts or larger; promoting energy efficiency and conservation by setting the state's appliance and building efficiency standards; supporting public interest energy research that advances energy science and technology through research, development, and demonstration programs; developing renewable energy resources and alternative renewable energy technologies for buildings, industry and transportation; planning for and directing state response to energy emergencies.