Stockton, Calif. – Today, hundreds of Stockton residents from disadvantaged communities were treated to personalized demonstrations of advanced-technology, low-carbon vehicles. Participants at this weekend’s recurring Tune In & Tune Up event had an opportunity to test drive electric vehicles (EV) available on the market today and learn how EVs can reduce air pollution, combat global warming, improve health and help working families save money.
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (Valley Air District) and Valley Clean Air Now (Valley CAN) welcomed partners Charge Ahead California, Center for Sustainable Energy, and PG&E. With experience and knowledge specific to the San Joaquin Valley and electric vehicle technology, these organizations are focusing on developing solutions that jumpstart the adoption of clean-technology vehicles in the Valley.
The electric vehicle event provided participants with a first-time opportunity to get behind the wheel of an electric vehicle, to learn about rebates, loans and financing options, and to envision a clean air future for the Central Valley, which consistently ranks among the worst areas in the nation for smog and particle pollution, according to the American Lung Association.
“The Central Valley can charge ahead, rapidly moving to clean electric vehicles and a clean air future for all,” said Michelle Kinman, clean energy advocate for Environment California Research & Policy Center. “Driving on electricity is the equivalent of paying only one dollar-per-gallon in a gasoline vehicle, and electric vehicles are now within reach of working families, thanks to generous incentives from a new state law, the Charge Ahead California Initiative.”
The Charge Ahead California Initiative (SB 1275, De León) was signed by Governor Brown in September 2014 to place one million zero-emission and near-zero-emission vehicles on the road by the year 2023, while making sure that low-income communities have access to these clean vehicles and benefit from the switch to cleaner transportation. The Initiative directs the Air Resources Board to create equity programs including the Enhanced Fleet Modernization Program Plus Up, which enables underserved community members to retire high polluting vehicles and receive incentives towards the purchase of new and used electric vehicles. The program is funded by revenue from the state’s cap-and-trade program, investing polluter fees into programs that reduce global warming pollution and bring clean air and clean jobs to low-income communities.
A variety of California’s best-selling ultra-low-emissions vehicles were provided by vehicle manufacturers General Motors and Fiat. Product specialists and EV experts were on hand to answer questions and explain differences between offerings of fully electric models and plug-in hybrids, as well as financing options newly available to low-income community members.
One critical element to enable widespread EV adoption in the San Joaquin Valley is to expand the currently underdeveloped vehicle charging network. “PG&E is committed to helping all our customers throughout Northern and Central California realize the benefits of electric vehicles. PG&E is proposing to build 25,000 charging stations, many in moderate and low income neighborhoods, throughout our service area. Our proposal should help remove some of the key barriers to electric vehicle adoption and drive us toward the state’s electric vehicle and environmental goals,” said Jana Corey, director of electrification and electric vehicles at PG&E.
The Tune In Tune Up program is especially interested in answering the lifestyle needs of working families in the Valley. The vehicle demonstrations and test drives were open to drivers with older, out-of-tune vehicles. Over 500 vehicles were lined up for free emissions testing. Drivers who qualify—by being a San Joaquin Valley resident, owning their car for 6 months or more, and failing a smog test—took home a $500 voucher to complete emissions repairs at a local smog shop.
“These are drivers who have proven their willingness to take steps to help clean up the air,” said Tom Knox, executive director of Valley CAN. “Many are faced with either driving a high-polluting vehicle or else not getting to work each day.” Valley CAN prides itself on a grassroots approach resulting in a high percentage of participants completing repairs and getting vehicles smog compliant.
“We’ve got a great system in place, which already has us plugged into this prominent source of air pollutants—older ‘out-of-tune’ cars,” said Samir Sheikh, director of the Valley Air District’s strategies and incentives department. “We have always preferred working together with drivers to find solutions that fit their needs, rather than seeing regulations fail to address the geographic and infrastructure challenges unique to the Valley.”
More than 10,000 cars have been repaired to state smog standards by Valley Clean Air Now’s Tune In & Tune Up program since 2003. Tune In & Tune Up has been shown to be among the most cost-effective methods to reduce vehicle emissions attempted to date in California.
About the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District
The Valley Air District serves eight counties including San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare and the valley portion of Kern. For assistance with any air quality issue, contact the nearest District office in Modesto at (209) 557-6440, Fresno at (559) 230-6000 or Bakersfield at (661) 326-6900, or visit www.valleyair.org.
About Valley CAN
Valley Clean Air Now (Valley CAN) is a non-profit organization committed to improving air quality in communities throughout California’s San Joaquin Valley. As a part of its purpose, Valley CAN will: serve as a leader in educating the public in the need to take personal responsibility for the reduction of air pollution; promote voluntary actions to reduce air pollution by individuals, government, agriculture, business and industry; seek to initiate and publicize creative new approaches to reduce air pollution; and sponsor pilot programs and educational efforts dedicated to providing solutions to high emissions sources. For more information on Valley Clean Air Now, please visit www.valley-can.org.
About Charge Ahead California
The Charge Ahead California campaign is a collaboration of five organizations—Coalition for Clean Air, Communities for a Better Environment, Environment California/Environment California Research & Policy Center, The Greenlining Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council—aimed at placing one million light, medium and heavy-duty electric vehicles on California’s roads over the next 10 years and ensure that all Californians, especially lower-income households in communities most impacted by air pollution, benefit from zero tailpipe emissions. For more information on Charge Ahead California, please visit www.chargeahead.org.