City of Sacramento Member Spotlight
The Capital Region relies heavily on cars for mobility, and the pollutants emitted from fossil fuel burning cars contribute to many of the current health and environmental problems facing the region, including worsening air quality, urban heat island effect, and the greater effects of climate change. According the EPA, the San Joaquin Valley has some of the nation’s worst air quality due the valley’s topography, and transportation is one of the main sectors contributors to the Valley’s worsening air quality. Pursuing less polluting means of transportation is critical to the public and ecological health of the region and State. Among the various alternative transportation modes being pursued are zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) – “vehicles that emit no exhaust from vehicle sources of power, with zero tailpipe emissions” (City of Sacramento EV Strategy, 2017, p. iv). California and the capital region are actively supporting the advancement of ZEVs. In recent years, legislation has been passed to support increased adoption of ZEVs in California. In 2012, Governor Jerry Brown issued Executive Order B-16-2012 to establish the goal of reaching 1.5 million ZEVs on California roads by 2025. Additionally, Senate Bill (SB) 1275, the Charge Ahead California Initiative, established initiatives to increase the availability of ZEVs and near-zero-emission vehicles with a focus on disadvantaged and low- and moderate-income communities.
On December 12, 2017 the Sacramento City Council adopted the Electric Vehicle (EV) Strategy. As the City’s first EV plan, this document was designed to facilitate widespread EV adoption and establish Sacramento as a testbed for clean transportation technologies. The City’s Strategy prioritizes shared and active modes, while addressing the City’s role in transitioning vehicles to zero-emission technologies. It includes ambitious performance goals such as reaching 75,000 ZEVs and 300 public DC fast chargers within city limits by 2025. The EV Strategy lays out the City’s plan to increase outreach programs, expanded charging infrastructure, and new incentives within the City. Notably, the City’s EV Strategy places emphasis on improving access to ZEV technologies and ZEV benefits for disadvantaged and low-income communities. As the state’s capital and a hub of regional economic activity, the City of Sacramento attracts many SOVs daily. The Strategy notes that “according to the 2011-2015 American Communities Survey, approximately 73 percent of commuters in Sacramento drove alone to work. Attainment of the City’s goals for transportation and mobility must be realized with reductions in the overall number of single-occupant trips. However, for vehicle trips with no other viable alternative, the City is working to shift both shared and single-occupant trips into EV technologies.”
History of EV in Sacramento
Sacramento has record as a long-standing leader in electrification, most notably due to the with collaboration between multiple agencies and community partners within the region. In the past, Sacramento has implemented a range of initiatives to deploy EV programs and infrastructure, while recent public-private partnerships are providing a foundation for future efforts.
The vision of the City of Sacramento General Plan is to make Sacramento the most livable city in America by creating a healthy community with a vibrant economy and sustainable future. Within this, the General Plan Mobility Goal calls on Sacramento to pursue new transportation technologies and services while simultaneously committing the City to the adoption of zero-emission and low-emission vehicles. The EV Strategy represents one of the avenues through which the City plans to implement and enhance the General Plan Mobility Goals.
California is an ideal market for adoption of ZEVs, a point which the EV Strategy emphasizes. The Strategy emphasizes that Sacramento has been recognized as one of the leading metropolitan areas for EV promotion activities; however, despite market readiness, EV adoption rates in Sacramento lag behind other areas in the state and nation. As of 2016, EVs compromised roughly 2% of new vehicles in the Sacramento region, while in regions such as San Jose, EVs exceed 10% of new sales. The City of Sacramento responded to this lag in EV adoption along with the General Plan Mobility Goals with the development of the EV Strategy. The Strategy will prepare Sacramento to respond to market readiness for light-duty EVs advancement to reduce GHG emissions and air pollution in the capital region, thereby making Sacramento a more livable City.
The draft document was first released for public review in October 2017, following extensive input from agency partners, residents, and other stakeholders, such as a close collaboration with the Sacramento Area PEV Collaborative. Key agency partners involved in the preparation of the plan included the County of Sacramento, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District (SMAQMD), and SACOG. Other groups engaged in plan development include the Sacramento EV Association (Sac EV), the Institute of Transportation Studies, Davis (ITS), and various private EV charging network companies, transportation network companies, and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
The following are priorities which have been outlined by the City in order to attain the vision and goals established in this Strategy and the General Plan Mobility Goals.
- Increase and accelerate ZEV use and adoption levels within the Sacramento region to achieve 75,000 ZEVs in Sacramento by 2025.
- Establish Sacramento as a Green City, the ZEV Capital of California.
- Advance the next generation of transformational and highly visible ZEV mobility applications and programs.
- Increase the visibility and awareness of ZEVs as a viable transportation option.
- Achieve equitable access to ZEV technologies and benefits by low-income populations and disadvantaged communities, including job training and employment opportunities.
- Strengthen the local ecosystem of ZEV innovation and industry.
- Advance an efficient distribution of residential and public charging infrastructure that is optimized for future technologies and demand.
- Support financially-sustainable ZEV programs and ensure that any public spending on ZEVs or ZEV infrastructure balances charging demands, advances new technologies, or incentivizes ZEV rider trips.
- Ensure that ZEV programs complement active transportation and transit modes.
- Encourage shared ZEV options that reduce vehicle trips and the need for personal vehicle ownership.
- Support the use of renewable energy and advanced energy technologies to help minimize impacts to the grid caused by vehicle electrification and support cost-effective infrastructure installations.
Advancing EVs while working towards the City’s goals of reducing VMT offers a broad array of benefits to the community. Together, these strategies implement local goals while delivering measurable environmental, public health, and cost benefits. Most notable are the climate and air quality benefits associated with increased EV use. Transportation is the single largest contributor to GHG emissions in the region. Advancing technologies which reduce GHG emissions in the capital region will help to address many of the problems currently facing such region such as Urban Heat Island Effect, climate change, and worsening air quality. The EV Strategy notes that “the American Lung Association has designated the Sacramento-Roseville metropolitan area as the eight most polluted area in America for ozone, and fourteenth most polluted for 24- hour particle pollution (2017)” (p. 19). As such, decreasing the number of fossil fuel burning vehicles on the road is instrumental to the health of the region. The American Lung Association also estimates that each tank of gasoline used contributes to $18.42 in health and climate costs. Given the region’s reliance on vehicles for transportation, increasing the use of ZEVs such as EVs is an essential step in addressing the health and climate threats facing the region while continuing to ensure people can move about the capital region.
Implementing the strategy requires ongoing City leadership and widespread coordination with partners. The EV Strategy serves as a guide, functioning as an implementation tool of the General Plan. The City plans to fully implement the first set of comprehensive targets and actions of the EV Strategy by 2025 in order to continue moving Sacramento towards its goal of zero-emission mobility. As Sacramento moves toward this goal, the City strives for cross-functional collaboration, consistency and commitment to ZEV adoption. To ensure the success of this EV Strategy, the City of Sacramento will integrate the goals and actions of the plan into other local and regional plans as applicable, including forthcoming updates to the City’s General Plan and Climate Action Plan. City staff will achieve this by monitoring progress on an ongoing basis and submitting annual updates to the City Council accordingly. City staff will evaluate the effectiveness of actions and provide recommendations for updates. Over time, if implementation does not occur as anticipated, the City may modify and add additional actions to ensure attainment of targets and goals. For example, the City may need to alter or remove actions from the Strategy to ensure the City can meet its goals and targets in a manner that appropriately addresses community needs and values. The City also recognizes the need to be flexible in response to quickly evolving technology and ZEV applications.