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Utility Dive: Trump Administration Threatens California Emissions Authority as State Continues EV-Focus

Posted by Catherine Morehouse on Sep 19, 2019

Utility Dive quoted AEE's Amisha Rai in its coverage of six recent EV related bills passed in California that could be impacted by the Trump Administration's emissions rollback threat. See excerpts below and read the full UD brief here. It was also reposted by Supply-Chain Dive here.

California lawmakers made progress on advancing the state's electric vehicle market this legislative session, despite President Donald Trump's Wednesday announcement that his administration intends to challenge the state's ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.

The Trump administration's move, at its most extreme, could threaten the state's ZEV rebate program, Therese Langer, director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy's transportation program told Utility Dive, which is essential to its EV rollout but in part dependent on the Environmental Protection Agency's waiver.

"Despite the actions by the federal government, the signal is clear from policymakers and the administration that California will continue to lead on transportation," Amisha Rai, managing director at Advanced Energy Economy, told Utility Dive. "And the bills that passed and made their way to the governor's desk this year will help enable that shift … Transforming existing programs so that they're more market oriented and able to push the market more aggressively can help enable that..."

California has a mandate that calls for 1.5 million ZEVs on the road by 2030, based on a legal waiver the state has under the Clean Air Act that allows it to set its own greenhouse gas emissions standards. Former California Gov. Jerry Brown, D, in January of 2018 set a more ambitious goal of 5 million ZEVs by 2030, which would increase peak demand on the state's power grid by an estimated 1 GW. Despite the legislation's strong focus on transportation this session, one bill critical to that program was tabled for next session — Assembly Bill 1046, which would have directed state regulators to essentially stabilize the state's EV rebate program, which provides an up to $7,000 rebate for customers looking to purchase an electric, plug-in hybrid or fuel-cell electric vehicle.

"To date, that rebate program has suffered from sort of the on and off situation with the funding," said Rai. "So basically once the funding expires, there's usually a long wait list of consumers that are looking to access the rebate... And so there's just sort of this stop and go situation with the program, which does not help in driving the market..."

California passed six ZEV-related bills last session, several of which passed with bipartisan support. One of the more significant bills was Senate Bill 784, which exempts zero-emissions busses from a sales tax. Its passage was a testament to the strong policy behind driving the ZEV market forward with a particular focus at the local level, said Rai

"It behooves the state to help enable that transition," she said. "The fact that the legislature showed such broad support for the state providing this type of assistance and seeing how that could help accelerate the transition was great."

Read the entire UD piece here and reposted by Supply-Chain Dive here.

Topics: United In The News