New Program Gives Remote Native American Tribes Greater Access to Affordable Electric Vehicles
Published August 21, 2019
BLUE LAKE RANCHERIA — While California’s clean energy movement is expanding at a faster rate than most states, many incentives to switch over to clean vehicles are not always reaching Native Americans, who traditionally have been an isolated, underserved population.
There are a number of barriers for Native American tribes within California to transition to clean electric vehicles. Many tribes are remotely located, and the EV charging infrastructure needed is unavailable. Also, the unfamiliarity of EV charging stations and range anxiety can be intimidating for new communities to pursue the green technologies.
To help close the clean energy gap, the Blue Lake Rancheria has teamed up with GRID Alternatives and the Native American Environmental Protection Coalition to conduct direct outreach to tribal communities to provide information on incentives and funding to make electric vehicles more affordable for low-income drivers.
The One-Stop-Shop Pilot will streamline and improve access to clean transportation incentives to consumers around the state who meet income qualifications.
“Tribal communities have often been overlooked in outreach and participation in emerging technologies. We are excited to help facilitate greater access to the many benefits of clean transportation,” Stephen Kullmann, BLR’s Community Development and Resiliency Director, said. The pilot will provide outreach for low-income consumers to upgrade their existing older vehicles and apply for zero emission cars and clean mobility options.
“Electric vehicles are great because they’re a low carbon way to get transportation.
And transportation is one of the highest contributors to climate change,” Kullman said.
“With electric vehicles, you can utilize renewable to energy to charge your car and drive.”
The ‘One-Stop-Shop’ initiative addresses recommendations of the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act to increase low-income residents’ awareness of clean transportation options by expanding education and outreach, and it is part of a broader statewide effort to help transition California’s vehicle fleet away from fossil fuels to low emission options that are better for public health and the environment.
The Blue Lake Rancheria is already leading the way in climate action, with an aggressive timeline to have zero net carbon emissions by 2030. To make the transition, the tribe invests in green fuels and clean transportation.
In 2013, the tribe began migrating its government fleet to electric vehicles. There are two EV charging stations installed at BLR with more planned. The tribe is also developing a green commute program for its employees, and is exploring EV transit buses to serve part or all of its public transit services.
The ‘One-Stop Shop’ program is supported by $5 million legal settlement with Volkswagen related to the emissions test-rigging scandal. The German automaker admitted to secretly installing software in nearly 500,000 U.S. vehicles to cheat government exhaust emissions tests.
GRID Alternatives is a national leader in making clean, renewable energy accessible to low-income communities.