ZEV Deployment Strategy Is the Beginning of Big Lift for Clean Mobility
Plan sets up the region for a clean future and to be more competitive for funding


September 20, 2022: The new clean air vehicle landscape is starting to take shape. By 2035, all new cars and light trucks sold in California will be zero emission vehicles, and transit agencies aren’t far behind with a 2040 deadline to transition. Plans are in motion to ensure the region has the infrastructure and funding to support it. The Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) has been collaborating with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District (AQMD), and the Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) to create the ZEV Deployment Strategy. The strategy is a coordinated approach to ensure Sacramento can meet the demands of zero emission vehicles and create a cleaner future for our region.

On an average weekday, residents drive almost 43 million miles on roadways in the region, and 9 million for commercial vehicles. If you laid out all of those miles in a straight line, that is roughly the equivalent of driving to Mars. Driving and the resulting exhaust is taking its toll on air quality in the region, so much so that the Sacramento region has made the American Lung Association’s Most Polluted Cities list.

The transition to zero emission vehicles will be a big shift for consumers, cities, and service providers, which is why plans like the ZEV Deployment Strategy will be critical to ensuring infrastructure is in place to support the challenges that come along with this effort. The plan prioritizes electrification in under-resourced communities, personal vehicles, shared-ride vehicles, public and private transit, microtransit and shuttles, and medium-duty and heavy-duty fleets. It also addresses workforce training to develop qualified workers and help people get hired and moved into high-paying jobs.

“Instead of working in silos we’ve started to sync our efforts,” shared Jaime Lemus, the transportation and climate change division manager at AQMD. Lemus shared that the air district has been heavily involved in the modernization of medium-duty and heavy-duty equipment to near zero emissions, and those efforts have evolved to include school buses, tractors, and even all-terrain vehicles, “Instead of the air district doing its own thing, we’ve identified how to best leverage our resources, funding, and influence to make movements into zero emissions,” he added.

Public transit agencies like SacRT have a lot to do when it comes to zero emission transitions. Currently, the agency operates 24 full-size electric buses, and nine smaller ones. That’s only a fraction of the collective 600 transit vehicles that will need to be transitioned to zero emissions.

“It’s hard to buy, and an even heavier lift to identify how we are going to fuel them,” said Craig Norman, director of engineering and construction for SacRT. Norman shared that SacRT is still evaluating whether hydrogen or electric will be the right fit for the fleet, but either way they will need SMUD’s help to get the electric infrastructure in place, which does not exist yet, and SMUD has stepped up to the plate as a planning partner. SacRT is just one of many transit operators in the region, and they are all going to need to coordinate to solve refueling challenges.

Rachel Huang, the director of customer & grid strategy for SMUD, said, “SMUD is the fuel provider relative to transportation,” and explained that the agency is focusing on how to provide fuel for clean mobility without emissions as part of their 2030 Clean Energy Vision. She explained that electricity is second to transportation when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. “It is important for us to reduce emissions within communities and at home,” she added.

The partnership and the strategy will help the region be more competitive when applying for grants. It shows a commitment to the work ahead, but a clean future will be well worth the effort.

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