Policy Context

California faces significant challenges in meeting the transportation demands of its growing population. Those challenges include:

  • Reducing carbon emissions.
  • Decreasing reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Improving infrastructure capacity, reliability, and sustainability.
  • Improving air quality.
  • Increasing the use of alternative and renewable fuels.

The following sections describe legislation and policy that guide the Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Transportation program on meeting California's challenges:


Assembly Bill 118

Assembly Bill 118 (Núñez, Chapter 750, Statutes of 2007) created the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, through which the Energy Commission will allocate up to 120 million dollars per year to increase the use of alternative and renewable fuels and innovative technologies to help attain the state's climate change goals.


Assembly Bill 32

Assembly Bill 32 , the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (Núñez, Chapter 488, Statutes of 2006), requires in law a reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The California Air Resources Board (ARB), the lead agency for implementing AB 32, has developed a Scoping Plan outlining the State's strategy to achieve the 2020 greenhouse gas emissions limit. This Scoping Plan, developed by ARB in coordination with the Climate Action Team (CAT), proposes a comprehensive set of actions designed to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions in California, improve our environment, reduce our dependence on oil, diversify our energy sources, save energy, create new jobs, and enhance public health. Actions to be taken in the transportation sector to achieve these objectives include:


Integrated Energy Policy Report

The California Energy Commission adopts an Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) every two years and an update every other year, recommending strategies to meet the state's energy needs and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions as required by Senate Bill 1389 (Bowen, Statutes of 2002, Chapter 568). The IEPR assesses and forecasts all aspects of energy industry supply, production, transportation, delivery and distribution, demand, and prices. The Energy Commission uses these assessments and forecasts to develop energy policies that:

The following are a few of the transportation-related recommendations in the 2005 and 2007 IEPRs:


Low-Carbon Fuels Standard

The California Air Resources Board is implementing the Low-Carbon Fuels Standard (LCFS), which will require fuel providers in California to ensure that the mix of fuel they sell into the California market meet, on average, a declining standard for GHG emissions. This first-of-its-kind policy seeks to reduce the GHG impact from California's use of transportation fuels and diversify its fuels portfolio by establishing:


Senate Bill 1250

In 2006, Senate Bill 1250 (Perata, Chapter 512, Statutes of 2006) reauthorized funding for the PIER Program from 2007 to 2011 and sharpened the Energy Commission's research priorities. Specifically, SB 1250 states that the general goal of the PIER program is to develop and help bring to market energy technologies that provide increased environmental benefits, greater system reliability, and lower system costs. These energy technologies must provide tangible benefits to electric and natural gas utility customers through the following investments:

Senate Bill 76

Senate Bill 76 (Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review, Chapter 91, Statutes of 2005), enacted by the Legislature as trailer bill language to the fiscal year 05-06 Budget Act, enabled the Natural Gas and Electric programs to include transportation-related research. It requires the PIER Program to plan, with California Air Resources Board, transportation research that would benefit ratepayers by promoting:


State Alternative Fuels Plan

State Alternative Fuels Plan Goals for alternative fuel usage Directed by Assembly Bill 1007, (Pavley, Chapter 371, Statutes of 2005) the Energy Commission, in partnership with the Air Resources Board, developed a State Alternative Fuels Plan (SAFP) to increase the use of alternative fuels without adversely affecting air quality, water quality, and public health. The SAFP describes strategies, highlights actions, and recommends mechanisms to concurrently address multiple state policy goals in an integrated fashion. These include petroleum reduction, GHG reduction, in-state biofuel production, and air quality goals. Objectives of the SAFP include:

(Pavley, Chapter 371, Statutes of 2005)

The SAFP recommends research that will accelerate the growth of alternative fuels, displacing more than 4 billion gasoline gallon equivalents (20 percent) in 2020. This could grow to at least 30 percent by 2030. By 2050, alternative fuels could provide more than half the energy needed to power California's transportation system.