One California state senator wants to make sure electric vehicles aren't just for the jewelry-rattlers anymore. California State Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) proposed a bill last month that is designed to put plug-in vehicles within reach of those with more moderate incomes than your typical Tesla buyer. It's called the Charge Ahead California Initiative and the bill may cross Governor Jerry Brown's desk as soon as next month.

In addition to the state's current $2,500 rebate for EV buyers, State Bill 1275 would provide as much as another $3,000 for moderate-income residents retiring an old car in exchange for a new plug-in. And for those lower-income residents not looking for an EV, the state may provide $3,000 in credits towards a public-transit pass or car-sharing membership for those retiring a clunker.

The flip side is that the bill would also dictate that those on the wealthier end of the income scale would no longer be eligible for the $2,500 state-funded EV rebate. The idea of not helping the wealthy quite so much to buy EVs with public money was tested in May when the California Air Resources Board (CARB) was talking about eliminating the state's $2,500 electric-vehicle rebates to buyers of EVs with MSRPs of at least $60,000 (we could theoretically call it the Tesla Rule), but CARB followed up by saying that proposed price limit on rebates won't see the light of day anytime soon.

Credit-rating firm Experian released a report this spring saying that that electric-vehicle owners tend to be both younger and wealthier than hybrid-vehicle drivers, and have better credit as well. In fact, more than one in five EV buyers boasted a household income of at least $175,000, whereas about 12 percent of hybrid buyers had that kind of annual cash rolling in. So with the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project running out of its most recent round of funds in April (the Los Angeles Times says a new infusion of $121 million will go into effect for the upcoming fiscal year), the idea of revisiting the rebate program and how the money is distributed will remain important. Check out the press release from de Leon below.
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East Los Angeles Charged Up about Electric Vehicles

Rebate/Loan/Financing Options Proposed for Low-Income Californians

EAST LOS ANGELES – Community members joined Senate President pro Tempore-elect Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) on Sunday, June 29, 2014 to learn about how electric vehicles can reduce air pollution, improve health and save working families money in communities throughout California that are disproportionately impacted by air pollution.

The Electric Vehicle Fair, held in conjunction with a Senior Health Fair hosted by White Memorial Medical Center, provided community members with a first-time opportunity to check out electric cars and learn about rebate, loan and financing options, as well as learn about electric trucks and buses, and to envision a clean air future for East Los Angeles.

"To clean up our dirty air, we need to make electric cars more accessible for our middle-and low-income families, not just the wealthy," said Senator De León. "By increasing targeted rebate, loan and carpooling/van sharing programs, California can lead the way for a cleaner and healthier environment."

Sunday's Fair introduced East Los Angeles to the Charge Ahead California campaign to put 1 million electric vehicles on California roads in the next decade, and ensure that low-income households benefit from zero tailpipe emissions. The Charge Ahead California campaign is leading the effort which inspired Senate Bill 1275 (De León), which is supported by the Coalition for Clean Air, Communities for a Better Environment, Environment California, The Greenlining Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Most recently, on June 23, 2014, SB 1275 was approved by the Assembly Natural Resources Committee, after passing through the full Senate in late May with strong bi-partisan support.

"Pollution from the production and burning of fossil fuels impacts the health and well being of Californians-especially low income communities of color," said Roberto Cabrales, community organizer with Communities for a Better Environment. "We want to ensure all Californians, regardless of income, can access to clean transportation."

Everyone-from children to senior citizens-is impacted by air pollution. Sunday's event offered activities for all age groups, with children coloring pictures of clean electric cars to adults competing for prizes in lively games of "Charge Ahead Loteria," an electric vehicle themed version of the popular game of chance.

"It's great to see Angelenos embracing electric vehicles as our future because we cannot leave the health of our planet or our communities to chance," said Michelle Kinman, clean energy advocate with Environment California. "It's time to charge ahead, break our dependence on oil, clean up our air, improve our health and protect our climate."

The Electric Vehicle Fair came just two days after the Los Angeles City Council voted to endorse SB 1275, the Charge Ahead California sponsored legislation.

The electric cars for the event were provided by Camino Real Chevrolet in Monterey Park, Central Ford in South Gate, and Glendale Nissan.

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