Electrification of transportation to help clean up air, Inland environmentalists say

Local environmentalists celebrated the California Public Utilities Commission’s recent decision to approve over $40 million to electrify public transportation across the state.

Southern California Edison will be allowed to invest about $8 million to build DC fast chargers for electric vehicle users in low income communities and introduce a bus pilot program to provide grants for electric buses to transit agencies.

Organizers and volunteers associated with the Sierra Club My Generation campaign and the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice say these projects will help transform public transportation and deter pollution across the Inland region. They’ve been urging the CPUC for years to pursue electrification projects to mitigate toxins.

Many of them were on hand to hear the state commission’s unanimous decision in San Francisco on January 11.

“This decision was really important for our region,” volunteer Miguel Rivera said. “Our communities are vulnerable and cannot afford this technology, so it’s important we fight for these resources.”

The DC Fast Chargers initiative intends to create five charging sites in designated urban areas with five dual port charging stations. SoCal Edison will install and maintain the infrastructure at participating customer sites, according to the utility’s submitted proposal. Site hosts, which includes cities, parking lot operators, and EV service providers, will have the opportunity to receive rebates to cover base costs.  Participating site hosts will also set the EV charging rate for drivers.

“Locating [DC Fast Chargers] in urban areas could help residential customers without access to overnight off-street parking or home charging adopt an EV and quickly charge it near their homes,” reads the proposal.

Edison’s Electric Transit Bus Make-Ready Project will station electric infrastructure at bus depots and routes to serve electric buses. A rebate will be provided to government agencies and property owners to cover equipment and installation costs. The program’s mission is to increase the number of electric buses operating in Southern California, while reducing emissions by 100 percent over the lifetime of an electric bus.

CCAEJ organizer Ericka Flores said communities like San Bernardino, where families suffer from respiratory illnesses due to their exposure to truck, bus, and rail traffic, demonstrate a need for electrification.

“Investing in infrastructure to support zero emission technologies is an opportunity to demonstrate that our community and communities like ours are equal citizens and deserve to be protected from air pollution just as everyone else does,” she said in a public statement.

In addition to the DC Fast Chargers Clusters Pilot and Electric Transit Bus programs, the Residential Make-Ready proposal presented by SoCal Edison will provide a rebate to customers that usually have trouble paying for the costs of installing Electric Vehicle equipment and permit fees. According to their application submitted to the CPUC, SoCal Edison will collect and report on the volume of unserved customers, electrical work and permitting costs and customer satisfaction.

Edison estimates that about 5,000 residential customers may participate in the pilot program. The $4 million allocated for the Rebate will pay for the costs of program enrollment and processing, as well as for education and outreach to receive more participation from the community.


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