Zero-emission vehicle initiatives in San Diego

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California voted to clean the roads last Thursday, making it the first state to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars starting in 2035 — though gas-powered cars will still be allowed to be operated + purchased used. Although that’s over a decade away, changes aren’t too far down the road.

In San Diego, we’re already seeing efforts aligning with the state-wide initiative known as Advanced Clean Cars II (ACC II). To make this change a reality, the county will need to support the adoption of zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) and roll out infrastructure that’ll move us toward the goal.

Sand Diego County electric car promo

Getting ready to go electric. | Photo via @MayorToddGloria

⚡ Charging up

America’s Finest City is also poised to be one of the cleanest and a leader for the plug-in electric vehicles (EV). In 2012, a working group was established to strategize how to make EVs a bigger part of local life.

Findings helped San Diego County accelerate its electric charging network with its Electric Vehicle Roadmap, part of its 2021-2026 Strategic Plan. The initiative places emphasis on improving charging availability for vehicles, adoption of regulations, education + leading by example through the county’s employees and vehicle fleet.

🌎 Climate Action Plan

San Diego’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) will be its driving force behind changes, sharing an end date of 2035 with ACC II. The plan prioritizes methods of increasing ZEV adoption and accelerating greenhouse gas reductions, with a net-zero goal. CAP includes:

  • Partnering with agencies like the Port of San Diego, the county’s Air Pollution Control District + SANDAG to incorporate ZEV infrastructure.
  • Modifying building codes to include EV charging pre-wiring + requiring stations in multi-family residences.
  • Working with local businesses to include EV charging stations on commercial properties.
  • Using city-owned surplus land that cannot be used for housing for charging stations + using city-owned land for public charging in cities of concern.

CAP’s implementation plan is set to be drafted for the 2024 budget, and prioritizes EV framework. Other ZEV are available, like hydrogen cars that use fuel cells, but there are limited resources + availability in San Diego, at this time.

💰 Incentives + education

San Diego County wants residents to get moving when it comes to ZEV adoption by learning more before they buy — and yes, you’ll spend less refueling your vehicle.

Looking to get a new ride? The state + county offer rebates and credits to help new buyers and low-income residents. There are also benefits for charger installation, including for multi-family homes. You can also check out Drive Clean CA’s incentive search to see what you may qualify to receive.

If you’re a SDG&E customer looking to go electric, you may be eligible for benefits ranging from tax credits to zapping into the HOV lane.

The County’s Renewable Energy Fee Waiver Pilot Program was available from January-November 2021, to help support EV charger installation in residential developments. This program is being evaluated, with next steps expected in 2023 or 2024.

🚌 Better busing

You may be thinking, what about the buses? ACC II specially called for passenger-operated vehicles to be zero-emission, so technically buses are exempt. But, the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System has taken charge, with its Zero-Emission Bus Program (ZEB). All new bus purchases will be zero-emission by 2029, and the entire fleet will transition by 2040. Currently, there are 13 ZEBs going round and round the city.

In a sunny turn of events, the San Diego Unified School System brought 54 solar photovoltaic power systems to pave the way for solar-powered buses + generate up to 50% of its energy for its school buses.