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


San Joaquin Valley Prepares for Electric Vehicles
with Energy Commission Grant

SACRAMENTO - The San Joaquin Valley is becoming friendlier to plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), thanks to a $200,000 planning grant approved by the California Energy Commission.

"The Valley suffers from some of the worst air pollution in the nation, which makes it an ideal market for zero-emission battery-powered vehicles. But before clean electric cars and trucks can become an important part of the area's transportation mix, drivers need to know they can 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. 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," Commissioner Peterman added.

The $200,000 Energy Commission grant will allow the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District, the project's lead entity, to create a "San Joaquin Valley Regional Plug-in Electric Vehicle Coordinating Council" that will include members from four other regional public agencies -- the Fresno and San Joaquin counties Councils of Governments, along with the Associations of Governments for Merced and Tulare and counties. AeroVironment, a private provider of electric vehicle infrastructure, will join these public agencies in the project. By creating a comprehensive Plug-In Vehicle Readiness Plan, the council will help promote the use of electric vehicles in the entire eight-county area.

The San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District will supply $50,000 for the project and the US Department of Energy will provide $75,000 in funding to match the Energy Commission's $200,000 grant.

With a population of nearly 4 million, the San Joaquin Valley is one of California's fastest growing regions. Two major north and south transportation corridors - Interstate 5 and Highway 99 - run the length of it. While the air pollution district has successfully reduced emission levels since 1990, it continues to seek solutions to the basin's poor air quality.

The San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District covers the counties of San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare and part of Kern County. With medium-sized cities, smaller towns and unincorporated communities, the Valley 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.

"Utilities predict the Valley will be a strong early adopter of electric vehicles, and consistent regional planning is needed to encourage that development," said Commissioner Peterman. "The coordinating council will help make the planning process uniform and transparent, open to ideas from a wide range of stakeholders."

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 Redwood Coast Energy Authority serving Humboldt County and California's North Coast, another part 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.

# # #

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.