California Laws and Incentives for Hydrogen Fuel Cells
The list below contains summaries of all California laws and incentives related to Hydrogen Fuel Cells.
Plug-In Hybrid and Zero Emission Light-Duty Vehicle Rebates
The Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP) offers rebates for the purchase or lease of qualified vehicles. The rebates offer up to $2,500 for light-duty zero emission and plug-in hybrid vehicles that the California Air Resources Board (ARB) has approved or certified. The rebates are available on a first-come, first-served basis to individuals, business owners, and government entities in California that purchase or lease new eligible vehicles. Manufacturers must apply to ARB to have their vehicles included in CVRP. Refer to the CVRP website for a list of eligible vehicles and other requirements. ARB determines annual funding amounts for CVRP, which is expected to be effective through 2015.
Alternative Fuel and Vehicle Incentives
The California Energy Commission (CEC) administers the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (Program) to provide financial incentives for businesses, vehicle and technology manufacturers, workforce training partners, fleet owners, consumers, and academic institutions with the goal of developing and deploying alternative and renewable fuels and advanced transportation technologies. The CEC must prepare and adopt an annual Investment Plan for the Program to establish funding priorities and opportunities that reflect program goals and to describe how program funding will be used to complement other public and private investments. Funded projects include:
- Commercial alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) demonstrations and deployment;
- Alternative and renewable fuel production;
- Research and development of alternative and renewable fuels and innovative technologies;
- AFV manufacturing;
- Workforce training; and
- Public education, outreach, and promotion.
High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) and High Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lane Exemption
Compressed natural gas (CNG), hydrogen, electric, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) meeting specified California and federal emissions standards and affixed with a California Department of Motor Vehicles Clean Air Vehicle sticker may use HOV lanes regardless of the number of occupants in the vehicle. White Clean Air Vehicle Stickers are available to an unlimited number of qualifying CNG, hydrogen, and electric vehicles. Green Clean Air Vehicle Stickers are available for the first 40,000 applicants that purchase or lease a qualified PHEV. Both stickers will expire January 1, 2015. These vehicles are also exempt from toll charges imposed on HOT lanes, unless prohibited by federal law. For more information, see the California Air Resources Board Carpool Lane Use Stickers website. (Reference Assembly Bill 2405, 2012, and California Vehicle Code 5205.5 and 21655.9)
Alternative Fuel and Advanced Vehicle Career Training
The Clean Technology and Renewable Energy Job Training, Career Technical Education, and Dropout Prevention Program provides grant funding to school districts for occupational training programs that focus on employment in clean technology businesses or renewable energy businesses, such as clean vehicle technologies, or cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel, biomass power, green waste, and fuel cell production. (Reference Senate Bill X1 1, 2011, and California Education Code 54690-54699)
Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) and Fueling Infrastructure Grants
The Motor Vehicle Registration Fee Program provides funding for projects that reduce air pollution from on- and off-road vehicles. Eligible projects include purchasing AFVs and developing alternative fueling infrastructure. Contact local air districts for more information about available grant funding and distribution from the Motor Vehicle Registration Fee Program. (Reference California Health and Safety Code 44220 (b))
Low Emissions School Bus Grants
The Lower-Emission School Bus Program (Program) provides grant funding for the replacement of older school buses and for the purchase of air pollution control equipment for in-use buses. The California Air Resources Board must verify that the air pollution control devices reduce particulate matter emissions by at least 85% for each retrofitted school bus. Public school districts in California that own their buses are eligible to receive funding. Private school transportation providers that contract with public school districts in California to provide transportation services are also eligible to receive funding for the retrofit of in-use buses. New buses purchased to replace older buses may be fueled with diesel or an alternative fuel, provided that the required emissions standards specified in the current guidelines for the Program are met. Funds are also available for replacing on-board natural gas tanks on older school buses and for updating deteriorating natural gas fueling infrastructure. Commercially available hybrid electric school buses may be eligible for partial funding. Contact local air districts for more information about grant funding availability and distribution from the Program. (Reference Assembly Bill 462, 2011; Senate Bill 570, 2011; and California Health and Safety Code 41081 and 44099))
Point of Contact
Air Pollution Specialist, Lower-Emission School Bus Program
California Air Resources Board
Phone: (916) 322-6913
Fax: (916) 322-3923
Advanced Transportation Financing
The California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority (CAEATFA) provides financing for property used to develop and commercialize advanced transportation technologies that reduce pollution and energy use and promote economic development. Eligible advanced transportation technologies include electric vehicles, fuel cells, and ultra low emission vehicles. CAEATFA may provide financial incentives in the form of sales and use tax exclusions on qualified property. See the CAEATFA website for information about current incentives. (Reference California Public Resources Code 26000-26017)
Employer Invested Emissions Reduction Funding - South Coast
The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) administers the Air Quality Investment Program (AQIP). The AQIP provides funding to allow employers within SCAQMD's jurisdiction to make annual investments into an administered fund to meet employers' emissions reduction targets. The revenues collected are used to fund alternative mobile source emissions/trip reduction programs, including alternative fuel vehicle projects, on an on-going basis. Programs such as low emission, alternative fuel, or zero emission vehicle procurement, and old vehicle scrapping may be considered for funding. Current requests for proposals and funding opportunities are listed on the AQIP website.
Technology Advancement Funding - South Coast
The South Coast Air Quality Management District's Clean Fuels Program provides funding for research, development, demonstration, and deployment projects that are expected to help accelerate the commercialization of advanced low emission transportation technologies. Eligible projects include powertrains and energy storage/conversion devices (e.g., fuel cells and batteries), and implementation of clean fuels (e.g., natural gas, propane, and hydrogen), including the necessary infrastructure. Projects are selected via specific requests for proposals on an as-needed basis or through unsolicited proposals. Approximately $10 million in funding is available annually with expected cost-share from other project partners and stakeholders.
Point of Contact
Technology Demonstration Manager
South Coast Air Quality Management District
Phone: (909) 396-2273
Fax: (909) 396-3252
Alternative Fuel and Advanced Vehicle Rebate - San Joaquin Valley
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD) administers the Drive Clean! Rebate Program (Program), which provides rebates for the purchase or lease of eligible new vehicles, including qualified natural gas and plug-in electric vehicles. The program offers rebates of up to $3,000, which are available on a first-come, first-served basis for residents and businesses located in the SJVAPCD that purchase a qualified vehicle on or after March 15, 2012. For a list of eligible vehicles and other requirements, refer to the Program website.
Low Emission Vehicle Incentives and Technical Training - San Joaquin Valley
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD) administers the REMOVE II program, which provides incentives for cost-effective projects that result in motor vehicle emissions reductions and long-term impacts on air pollution in the San Joaquin Valley. As of October 2012, REMOVE II is providing funding for vanpool agencies that reduce or replace single occupant vehicle commutes in the San Joaquin Valley. To participate, vanpool agencies must submit an application to SJVAPCD and sign a contract to become a Vanpool Voucher Incentive Program partner. REMOVE II also includes an Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Mechanic Training Component that provides incentives to educate personnel on the mechanics, operation safety, and maintenance of AFVs, fueling stations, and tools involved in the implementation of alternative fuel technologies.
Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) and Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) Insurance Discount
Farmers Insurance provides a discount of up to 10% on all major insurance coverage for HEV and AFV owners. To qualify, the automobile must be designed to use a dedicated alternative fuel as defined in the Energy Policy Act of 1992, or a HEV. A complete vehicle identification number is required to validate vehicle eligibility.
Laws and Regulations
Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Parking Incentive Programs
The California Department of General Services (DGS) and California Department of Transportation (DOT) must develop and implement AFV parking incentive programs in public parking facilities operated by DGS with 50 or more parking spaces and park-and-ride lots owned and operated by DOT. The incentives must provide meaningful and tangible benefits to drivers, such as preferential spaces, reduced fees, and fueling infrastructure. Fueling infrastructure built at park-and-ride lots is not subject to restricted use by those using bicycles, public transit, or ridesharing. (Reference Assembly Bill 2583, 2012; California Public Resources Code 25722.9; and California Vehicle Code 22518)
Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Promotion Plan
All state agencies must support and facilitate the rapid commercialization of ZEVs in California. In particular, the California Air Resources Board, California Energy Commission, Public Utilities Commission, and other relevant state agencies must work with the Plug-in Electric Vehicle Collaborative and the California Fuel Cell Partnership to establish benchmarks to achieve targets for ZEV commercialization. These targets include:
- By 2015, all major metropolitan areas in California will be able to accommodate ZEVs and have infrastructure plans and streamlined permitting in place;
- By 2020, the state will have established adequate infrastructure to support one million ZEVs;
- By 2025, there will be 1.5 million ZEVs on the road in California and clean, efficient vehicles will displace 1.5 billion gallons of petroleum fuels annually; and
- By 2050, greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector will be 80% less than 1990 levels.
(Reference Executive Order B-16, 2012)
Low Carbon Fuel Standard
California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) Program requires a reduction in the carbon intensity of transportation fuels that are sold, supplied, or offered for sale in the state by a minimum of 10% by 2020. The California Air Resources Board (ARB) regulations require transportation fuel producers and importers to meet specified average carbon intensity requirements for fuel. In the regulations, carbon intensity reductions are based on reformulated gasoline mixed with 10% corn-derived ethanol and low-sulfur diesel fuel. Liquefied petroleum gas (propane) is exempt from LCFS requirements, as are non-biomass-based alternative fuels that are supplied in California for use in transportation at an aggregated volume of less than 3.6 million gasoline gallon equivalents per year. Other exemptions apply for transportation fuel used in specific applications. The LCFS Program allows producers and importers to generate, acquire, transfer, bank, borrow, and trade credits. Fuel producers and importers regulated under the LCFS must meet quarterly and annual reporting requirements.
In December 2011, the U.S. District Court issued an injunction preventing ARB from implementing the LCFS because it violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution by interfering with and discriminating against interstate commerce. In January 2012, ARB filed a notice of appeal of the U.S. District Court ruling, but is withholding enforcement of the LCFS requirements until a final decision is made. In April 2012, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted the request to stay the injunction, allowing ARB to continue implementation and enforcement of the rule until the District Court makes a final decision.
State Transportation Plan
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) must update the California Transportation Plan (Plan) by December 31, 2015, and every five years thereafter. The Plan must address how the state will achieve maximum feasible emissions reductions, taking into consideration the use of alternative fuels, new vehicle technology, and tailpipe emissions reductions. Caltrans must prepare and submit an interim report to the California Transportation Commission and to the Senate and Assembly committees related to transportation, environmental quality, natural resources, and local government by December 31, 2012. Caltrans must consult and coordinate with related state agencies, air quality management districts, public transit operators, and regional transportation planning agencies. Caltrans must also provide an opportunity for general public input. Caltrans must submit a final draft of the Plan to the legislature and governor. (Reference California Government Code 65071-65073)
Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) Standards
California's LEV II exhaust emissions standards apply to Model Year (MY) 2004 and subsequent model year passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles meeting specified exhaust standards. The LEV II standards represent the maximum exhaust emissions for LEVs, Ultra Low Emission Vehicles, and Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicles, including flexible fuel, bi-fuel, and dual-fuel vehicles when operating on an alternative fuel. New MY2009 and subsequent model year passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles must meet specified fleet average greenhouse gas (GHG) exhaust emissions requirements. Each manufacturer must comply with these fleet average GHG requirements, which are based on California Air Resources Board calculations. Bi-fuel, flexible fuel, dual-fuel, and grid-connected hybrid electric vehicles may be eligible for an alternative compliance method. Manufacturers may earn credits for fleet average GHG values lower than the fleet average GHG requirement applicable to MY2012.
In August 2012, ARB submitted a regulatory proposal, referred to as LEV III, which would allow vehicle manufacturer compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's GHG requirements for model years 2017-2025 to serve as compliance with California's adopted GHG emissions requirements for those same model years. See the LEV III Program website for more information.
(Reference California Code of Regulations Title 13, Section 1961-1961.1)
Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Production Requirements
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) certifies new passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles as ZEVs if the vehicles produce zero exhaust emissions of any criteria pollutant (or precursor pollutant) under any and all possible operational modes and conditions. Manufacturers with annual sales greater than 60,000 vehicles must produce and deliver for sale in California a minimum percentage of ZEVs for each model year as follows:
|Model Year||Minimum ZEV Requirement|
|2018 and on||16%|
Manufacturers with annual sales between 4,501 and 60,000 vehicles may comply with the ZEV requirements through multiple alternative compliance options that include producing low emission vehicles and obtaining ZEV credits. Manufacturers with annual sales of 4,500 vehicles or less are not subject to this regulation.
In January 2012, ARB approved a new emissions control program for vehicle model years 2017 through 2025. The program combines the control of smog, soot, and global warming gases and requirements for ZEVs into a single package of standards called Advanced Clean Cars. See the ZEV Program website for more information.
(Reference California Code of Regulations Title 13, Section 1962.1)
Alternative Fuel and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Retrofit Regulations
Converting a vehicle to operate on an alternative fuel in lieu of the original gasoline or diesel fuel is prohibited unless the California Air Resources Board (ARB) has evaluated and certified the retrofit system. ARB will issue certification to the manufacturer of the system in the form of an Executive Order once the manufacturer demonstrates compliance with the emissions, warranty, and durability requirements. A manufacturer is defined as a person or company who manufactures or assembles an alternative fuel retrofit system for sale in California; this definition does not include individuals wishing to convert vehicles for personal use. Individuals interested in converting their vehicles to operate on an alternative fuel must ensure that the alternative fuel retrofit systems used for their vehicles have been ARB certified. For more information, see the ARB Alternative Fuel Retrofit System website.
A hybrid electric vehicle that is Model Year 2000 or newer and is a passenger car, light-duty truck, or medium-duty vehicle may be converted to incorporate off-vehicle charging capability if the manufacturer demonstrates compliance with emissions, warranty, and durability requirements. ARB issues certification to the manufacturer and the vehicle must meet California emissions standards for the model year of the original vehicle.
Fleet Vehicle Procurement Requirements
When awarding a vehicle procurement contract, every city, county, and special district, including school and community college districts, may require that 75% of the passenger cars and/or light-duty trucks acquired be energy-efficient vehicles. By definition, this includes hybrid electric vehicles and alternative fuel vehicles that meet California's advanced technology partial zero emission vehicle (AT PZEV) standards. Vehicle procurement contract evaluations may consider fuel economy and lifecycle factors for scoring purposes. (Reference California Public Resources Code 25725-25726)
Vehicle Acquisition and Petroleum Reduction Requirements
The California Department of General Services (DGS) is responsible for maintaining specifications and standards for passenger cars and light-duty trucks that are purchased or leased for state office, agency, and department use. These specifications include minimum vehicle emissions standards and encourage the purchase or lease of fuel-efficient and alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs). On an annual basis, DGS must compile information including, but not limited to, the number of AFVs and hybrid electric vehicles acquired, the locations of the alternative fuel pumps available for those vehicles, and the total amount of alternative fuels used.
Vehicles the state owns or leases that are capable of operating on alternative fuel must operate on that fuel unless the alternative fuel is not available. Additionally, the California State and Consumer Services Agency, in consultation with DGS and other appropriate state agencies, must develop, implement, and submit to the California Legislature and governor a plan to increase the state fleet's use of alternative fuels, synthetic lubricants, and fuel-efficient vehicles. This must be done by reducing or displacing the fleet's consumption of petroleum products by 20% by January 1, 2020, as compared to the 2003 consumption level. DGS must also:
- Take steps to transfer vehicles between agencies and departments to ensure that the most fuel-efficient vehicles are used and to eliminate the least fuel-efficient vehicles from the state's motor vehicle fleet;
- Submit annual progress reports to the California Department of Finance, related legislative committees, and the general public via the DGS website;
- Encourage other agencies to operate AFVs on the alternative fuel for which they are designed, to the extent feasible;
- Encourage the development of commercial fueling infrastructure at or near state vehicle fueling or parking sites; and
- Work with other agencies to incentivize and promote state employee use of AFVs through preferential or reduced-cost parking, access to electric vehicle charging, or other means, to the extent feasible.
Alternative Fuel and Vehicle Policy Development
The California Energy Commission must prepare and submit an Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) to the governor on a biannual basis. The IEPR provides an overview of major energy trends and issues facing the state, including those related to transportation fuels, technologies, and infrastructure. The IEPR also examines potential effects of alternative fuels use, vehicle efficiency improvements, and shifts in transportation modes on public health and safety, the economy, resources, the environment, and energy security. The IEPR's primary purpose is to develop energy policies that conserve resources, protect the environment, ensure energy reliability, enhance the state's economy, and protect public health and safety. (Reference California Public Resources Code 25302)
Hydrogen Fuel Specifications
The California Department of Food and Agriculture, Division of Measurement Standards (DMS) established interim specifications for hydrogen fuels for use in internal combustion engines and fuel cells in motor vehicles. These specifications are effective until an American National Standards Institute accredited standards development organization formally adopts standards for hydrogen fuels for use in motor vehicle internal combustion engines and fuel cells. (Reference California Code of Regulations Title 4, Section 4180-4181)
Mobile Source Emissions Reduction Requirements
Through its Mobile Sources Program, the California Air Resources Board has developed programs and policies to reduce emissions from on-road heavy-duty diesel vehicles through the installation of verified diesel emission control strategies (VDECS) and vehicle replacements.
An on-road heavy-duty diesel vehicle rule requires the retrofit and replacement of nearly all privately owned vehicles operated in California with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 14,000 pounds. School buses owned by private and public entities and federal government owned vehicles are also included in the scope of the rule. The requirements include a phase-in period for the installation of VDECS on certain heavier in-use vehicles beginning January 1, 2012, and require the replacement of older vehicles starting January 1, 2015. By January 1, 2023, nearly all vehicles must have engines certified to the 2010 engine standard or equivalent. A drayage/port truck rule regulates heavy-duty diesel-fueled vehicles that transport cargo to and from California's ports and intermodal rail facilities. The rule requires that certain drayage trucks be equipped with VDECS and that all applicable vehicles have engines certified to the 2007 emissions standards by January 1, 2014. A public transit agency fleet rule regulates public transit fleets and sets emissions reduction standards for new transit vehicles. A solid waste collection vehicle rule regulates solid waste collection vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 14,000 pounds or more that operate on diesel fuel, have 1960 through 2006 engine models, and collect waste for a fee. The fleet rule for public agencies and utilities requires fleets to install VDECS on vehicles or purchase vehicles that run on alternative fuels or use advanced technologies to achieve emissions requirements by specified implementation dates.
Point of Contact
California Air Resources Board
Phone: (866) 6DIESEL (634-3735)
Fleet Emissions Reduction Requirements - South Coast
The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) requires government fleets and private contractors under contract with public entities to purchase non-diesel lower emission and alternative fuel vehicles. The rule applies to transit bus, school bus, refuse hauler, and other vehicle fleets of at least 15 vehicles that operate in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange counties. (Reference SCAQMD Rules 1186.1 and 1191-1196)