Assessing Procedural Equity in California’s Electric Vehicle Purchase Programs

Research Team: Gregory Pierce (lead) and Rachel Connolly

UC Campus(es): UCLA

Problem Statement: California is actively implementing the latest generation of household-level environmental benefit policies and associated programs. Such programs are of growing importance; they help lower the initial costs of environmental services, allowing households to adopt technologies like clean vehicles and charging infrastructure that support the transition to clean energy. These technologies are typically unaffordable for low-income populations. While there is substantial research on the distributional outcomes of various clean vehicle benefit programs, there is limited literature on the procedural impacts of larger technology benefit efforts focused on supporting adoption in lower-income populations. Additionally, there is a need to explore methods for improving these outcomes. Equity is a particularly important consideration for these types of programs, since it is challenging to ensure these limited, large per-household benefits reach the most in-need populations.

Project Description: In this project, the researchers seek to answer the following research questions: i) To what extent have existing environmental benefit policies and programs targeting vulnerable populations achieved distributive and procedural equity outcomes within and outside the transportation sector? ii) How can evidence-based community engagement strategies be applied to support the achievement of equity in California’s growing number of limited-funding transportation benefit programs? To answer these, the researchers will first review academic and gray literature to draw connections between environmental benefit policy structure and outcomes. Second, they will analyze the attainment of procedural equity in two programs: the Clean Vehicle Assistance Program, which provides grants and financing to low-income households in California to purchase or lease a clean vehicle, and Access Clean California, which grew out of the California Air Resources Board’s One-Stop-Shop pilot and is designed to provide community members with information on their eligibility for multiple benefit programs – including vehicle replacement – and support them in completing program applications. These two programs feature different designs and priorities, and thus may highlight a range of challenges and opportunities across programs. Access Clean California, which has recently transitioned from a pilot stage, is especially important to evaluate as it supports program bundling for low-income and disadvantaged communities through a centralized system, rather than enrolling in a single program.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $54,905