Electrify America is making an additional investment of nearly $3 million to support four community-based organizations promoting electric vehicles (as in EVs, sometimes referred to as ZEVs or zero emission vehicles) education and awareness in low-income and disadvantaged communities in California.
According to a recent press release, this new investment is part of the company’s overall commitment to environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices, and supports the company’s plan to invest $200 million in EV infrastructure and education programs in California through mid-2024.
“In the exciting race to electrify our transportation system, many communities have not had equitable access to the resources and information that can help establish adoption of electric vehicles, said Gabriela Herrera Gugiu, Electrify America’s corporate social responsibility senior specialist, in a public statement. “We believe it’s our responsibility to help create a future where zero emission vehicles can be accessible and affordable to Californians and communities across the country.”
With nearly 800 charging stations throughout the country, Electrify America is the largest open direct current (DC) fast charging network in the United States. Since 2018, the company has announced investments of more than $9 million to help accelerate electric vehicle adoption in California, which has mandated that 100 percent of new cars and light trucks sold in California must be zero-emission vehicles (full battery-electric, hydrogen fuel cell, and plug-in hybrid-electric) by 2035.
Electrify America’s new investment builds on four years of significant investments with community-based organizations (CBOs) and non-profit organizations (NGOs) in low-income and disadvantaged communities throughout California. The investments are intended to support a more equitable transition to EV vehicles.
In addition, the community-based organizations will also focus on home charging education as well as building awareness and engagement connected with Electrify America’s $25 million Green City investment to bring charging infrastructure to the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and help to electrify the tens of thousands of drayage trucks that enter the Port Complex each day.
More than 100 non-profit, private and public entities from across California were invited to submit proposals to support brand-neutral EV education in disadvantaged and low-income communities. The organizations receiving funding include:
Breathe Southern California will host ride-share driver EV educational sessions, a ride-and-drive EV event at a farmer's market, and a miniature EV competition for families. Activities will take place in and around the Long Beach-Wilmington area where the Green City initiative is centered.
Ecology Action will focus on ride-and-drive events including EV showcases, EV purchase support guidance and EV webinars throughout California’s Central Coast and beyond, intended to drive community awareness broadly across the state.
Plug In America is supporting California-based EV education and engagement through ride-and-drive programs across California, EV test drives in rural communities, including the regions surrounding Green City efforts.
Valley Clean Air Now (VCAN) and key partners such as Charge Across Town will continue their comprehensive efforts that offer low-income and disadvantaged community groups in the San Joaquin Valley opportunities to test-drive EVs and to provide hands-on help with qualifying for EVs incentives through community clean car clinics and “Tune In & Tune Up” events. VCAN will also begin to recruit new car dealers to join the California Resources Board’s “Clean Cars 4 All” program, as well as additional community and government collaborations to lower barriers to EVs ownership in disadvantaged communities.
Electrify America’s new investment comes on the heels of the company’s May 2022 announcement that it entered into a 15-year virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA) to build a solar photovoltaic renewable energy generation project in San Bernardino County. Electrify America Solar Glow™ 1 is expected to generate 75 megawatts at peak solar capacity and produce enough completely renewable energy annually to help offset the energy used by Electrify America customers charging on its network.
The company is also investing in clean technology innovations to support sustainable and reliable operations, including more than 100 battery energy storage systems at charging stations throughout California to help stabilize the power grid and maintain pricing, while potentially maximizing renewable energy use from the grid.
Through 2021, Electrify America has invested $400 million in California, with nearly half of that supporting education, access, charging infrastructure and services to promote EV driving, including $18 million in education and marketing in marginalized communities throughout the state.
Expanding EV access will have major social and environmental implications for marginalized communities that have been ignored when it comes to investments in transportation infrastructure except when it comes to building highways and rail lines through those areas. According to a 2019 report, “Expanding Zero Emission Mobility and Access” by the ZEV Alliance and the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), low-income and disadvantaged communities face “disproportionately large” health impacts from climate change and environmental pollution. EVs offer great potential to benefit these communities by reducing pollution and improving public health, particularly for residents who are most vulnerable.
“The unfortunate reality is that the fossil fuel industry lobbies against ZEV [zero emissions vehicles] policies by obscuring the benefits they can deliver to diverse communities and by spreading misinformation suggesting that [EVs) are for the rich only,” according to the ZEV Alliance-ICCT report. “From a moral and practical perspective, a large coalition is needed to support clean transportation, which cannot be done if [EVs] are perceived as an exclusive privilege.”
Image credit: Ernest Ojeh via Unsplash
Gary E. Frank is a writer with more than 30 years of experience encompassing journalism, marketing, media relations, speech writing, university communications and corporate communications.