For Immediate Release: March 14, 2012
Media Contact: Adam Gottlieb - 916-654-4989


North Coast Prepares for Electric Vehicles
with Energy Commission Grant

SACRAMENTO - California's North Coast region will soon be friendlier to plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), thanks to a $199,949 planning grant from the California Energy Commission.

"As plug-in Electric Vehicles become an important part of California's transportation mix, this type of planning will reduce barriers to additional PEV deployment and give drivers confidence that charging infrastructure will be in place to meet their needs in the future," said Energy Commissioner Carla Peterman.

The North Coast PEV project is centered in Eureka, the Humboldt County seat. Other participating cities besides Eureka include Arcata and Trinidad to the north and the communities of Ferndale, Fortuna, and Rio Dell to the south, along Highway 101. The seventh city involved is Blue Lake, which lies 16 miles northeast of Eureka on Highway 299, the major route to Trinity County. While most of the region's residents live in Humboldt County, Del Norte and Trinity Counties will also participate in the project to insure that these outlying areas have adequate access to vehicle charging equipment.

The Energy Commission grant of nearly $200,000 will help fund a Plug-in Electric Vehicle Coordinating Council (PEVCC) that will include public and private leaders from counties, cities, public agencies, community organizations, private industry, the local university, and the local utility. The council will help promote the use of plug-in electric vehicles on the North Coast and create a set of consistent best management practices to simplify their introduction. A major goal is to 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 Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA, a Joint Powers Authority), will lead the coordinating council to produce a comprehensive Plug-In Electric Vehicle Readiness Plan. Other core members of council include the Schatz Energy Research Center at Humboldt State University; and Winzler and Kelly, a local engineering and environmental consulting firm. Additional project partners include Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), the Cities of Arcata and Eureka, the County of Humboldt, the Humboldt County Association of Governments, the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and Humboldt State University. Together the partners will provide funding of $69,225 to match the Energy Commission grant.

"Humboldt and its sparsely developed neighboring counties can become a rural model for successfully developing a market for plug-in electric vehicles," said Commissioner Peterman.

This planning grant is one of two approved today by the Energy Commission's Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, which supports the use of sustainable transportation fuels. A similar grant went to the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, another area of the state where electric vehicle use is expected to increase within the next 10 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.