Electric vehicles account for 1 percent of global auto sales.
While some people might look at that statistic and conclude that 99 times out of a hundred, an electric vehicle is not the best choice, Gov. Jerry Brown is not one of those people.
In 2012, when there were 25,000 electric vehicles registered in California, Brown signed an executive order mandating a target of 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025.
When there were only 350,000 ZEVs on the road by January 2018, Brown signed another executive order mandating a target of 5 million electric cars on the road by 2030.
So there are over 25 million cars registered in California as of last December, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles, plus more than 500,000 trucks and 800,000 motorcycles.
On Thursday, Gov. Brown sat at a table aboard the Enhydra, San Francisco Bay Area’s first plug-in hybrid electric ferry, and signed a stack a bills aimed at increasing the number of zero-emission vehicles and charging stations in California, and eventually getting everything else off the road.
But according to the president of Southern California Edison, even 5 million electric vehicles won’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to meet the state’s ambitious climate goals. Ronald L. Nichols spoke on a panel at the governor’s Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco last week and said it would require 7 million electric cars on the road in 12 years to hit the state’s climate target. He also said his company has committed to installing 50,000 charging stations in its service territory.
Charging stations are expensive, and you can probably guess who’s going to end up paying for them.
If you’re an SCE customer, you’ll be paying for those charging stations in the cost of electricity. You and everyone else will also be paying for Senate Bill 100, which the governor just signed over the objections of SCE and the other investor-owned utilities. SB100 requires utilities to get 60 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2030, up from 50 percent in current law. The utilities say this will increase electricity costs in California, already far higher than the national average. This is pure government force, and it makes everything more expensive.
Among the honored guests at the governor’s climate summit was a 120-person delegation from China, a country that knows a little bit about using force to implement the policies of its leaders.
Government force comes in many different forms. Sometimes it’s a penalty, sometimes an incentive. Sometimes it’s a policy that raises the cost of one option so high that another option becomes the only real choice.
In California, the penalty for fossil-fuel use is a higher price for gasoline, diesel fuel and anything else that’s subject to the cap-and-trade regime, a burden enforced through the California Air Resources Board. Refineries and other facilities must have a permit to emit each ton of greenhouse gases, and the revenue from the auction of these permits is spent by lawmakers just as if it was a tax.
In welcoming China’s representatives to his event, Gov. Brown said, “Let’s leave this summit more committed than ever to get to — not low-carbon, zero carbon, and then minus carbon — a prosperous world for all.”
It’s hard to reconcile that statement with reality. California has the highest poverty rate in the nation, and Gov. Brown’s climate agenda is one of the reasons.
Susan Shelley is an editorial writer and columnist for the Southern California News Group. Susan@SusanShelley.com. Twitter: @Susan_Shelley.
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