California Improving Clean Transportation Access for Low-Income Residents


Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit GRID Alternatives, which strives to make clean energy accessible to low-income communities and communities of color, has been selected by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to administer a new clean transportation project aimed at low-income residents.

The One-Stop-Shop Pilot is expected to streamline and improve access to clean transportation-related incentives available to income-qualified consumers around the state, explains GRID.

California currently has several clean transportation programs each with its own application process. All of these programs are supported by California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment – particularly in disadvantaged communities. The pilot will provide coordinated community-based outreach for these programs, as well as a single multilingual application for low-income consumers to upgrade their existing older vehicles and apply and qualify for zero- and near-zero-emission cars and other clean mobility options.

“This is all about making it easier for people to learn about and apply for incentives,” says Mary D. Nichols, chair of CARB. “Our goal is to build partnerships and community relationships to help low-income Californians get the cleanest cars as fast as possible.”

The One-Stop-Shop Pilot addresses a core recommendation of the S.B.350 Low-Income Barriers Study to increase low-income residents’ awareness of clean transportation options by expanding education and outreach. It is part of a broader statewide effort to help transition California’s vehicle fleet away from fossil fuels to zero- and near-zero-emission options, says GRID.

The pilot is also intended to lay the foundation for a centralized approach to accessing opportunities for clean energy, energy efficiency and water-efficient upgrades for housing serving low-income residents, the nonprofit adds. It is supported by one-time funding of up to $5 million, part of a legal settlement from Volkswagen’s Dieselgate scandal.

“GRID Alternatives is excited to partner with CARB on this important project,” says Erica Mackie, CEO and co-founder of the nonprofit. “CARB’s long-term vision of making it easier to access clean transportation and clean energy equity programs is a major step towards our shared vision of a transition to clean renewable energy that includes everyone.”

Incentive programs already available for low-income communities, households and individuals include as follows:

  • Increased rebates for low-income consumers through the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project;
  • Low-cost loans and grants for used and new hybrid and electric vehicles through the Clean Vehicle Assistance Program;
  • Projects to scrap and replace a vehicle in Southern California (Replace Your Ride), San Joaquin Valley (Drive Clean in the San Joaquin Replacement Program), and the Bay Area and Sacramento (coming soon); and
  • Car-sharing projects in the Los Angeles area (BlueLA) and Sacramento (Our Community CarShare Sacramento) and coming soon to the Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley and Watsonville.

The streamlined application is expected to launch mid-2019.

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