FutureStructure

California Lawmaker's 'Electric Vehicle Initiative' Calls for $3 Billion in Rebates

The initiative would earmark $3 billion over a 12-year period to provide motorists with subsidies for the cars they buy that qualify under the definition of zero-emissions vehicles.

by / August 22, 2017

California Assemblymember Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, has a lot of faith in electric cars becoming our automotive future — so much so that he has introduced a bill that would earmark $3 billion to offer drivers who purchase zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs).

The money available under this bill — called the California Electric Vehicle Initiative — comes from funds raised by the state’s cap-and-trade program, and would be doled out as subsidies over a 12-year period to motorists whose newly purchased cars qualify under the state's definition of ZEVs.

“If we don’t change the cars we drive, we’re not going to be able to reach [California’s] greenhouse gas reduction goals,” Ting told The San Diego Union-Tribune, adding that t

he Air Resources Board would be in control of setting the rebate amounts, which over time will decrease as more motorists turn to ZEVs.

The state Assembly has passed the bill — Assembly Bill 1184 — through to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“It’s going to help change our climate and get us to a green future,” Ting said, “37 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in California come from the transportation sector.”

The legislation wasn’t introduced to help any company, but instead was modeled after the California Solar Initiative. Introduced a decade ago, the initiative aimed to provide rebates for solar power installations. As time went on, costs declined and the industry grew.

Baruch Feigenbaum, assistant director of transportation policy at Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation, believes that the bill could lead to unexpected costs, and calls it a “sort of blunt instrument.”

“It sounds very complicated. It’s going to be very, very challenging for the state to actually administer,” Feigenbaum said. “I question whether that’s actually worth the transaction costs of figuring out who gets the subsidy or whose income is high enough.”

Sept. 15 is the wrap date for the legislation, and it has about one month to make it to the governor.