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Gov. Jerry Brown signs bills to boost purchases of electric cars

Gov. Brown signs bill setting goal of placing 1 million zero- or near-zero-emission cars on the road by 2023

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a package of bills Sunday boosting the state's market for electric cars, including a measure to make such vehicles more affordable for low-income residents.

That bill, the Charge Ahead California Initiative by Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), sets a goal of placing at least 1 million zero-emission vehicles and near-zero-emission vehicles on the road in California by Jan. 1, 2023.

"California has more electric vehicles on its roads than anywhere else, helping us fight pollution in our state and this legislation will further that effort," Jim Evans, a spokesman for Brown, said Sunday.

The measure directs the state Air Resources Board to draft a financial plan to meet the goal of putting 1 million vehicles on the road while making sure that disadvantaged communities can participate.

The board will change its clean-vehicle rebate program to provide an extra credit for low-income drivers who wish to purchase or lease an electric car. It also will provide assistance to car-sharing programs in low-income neighborhoods and install electric-vehicle charging stations in apartment buildings in those communities.

Low-income residents who agree to scrap older, polluting cars will also get clean-vehicle rebates on top of existing payments for junking smog-producing vehicles under SB 1275.

“With this bill, California is driving towards a clean-air future that benefits everyone, not just the wealthy,” De León said in a statement.

Brown also signed a measure Sunday that will increase the number of plug-in vehicles that can use carpool lanes at all times.

The measure, AB 2013 by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), raises the cap on the Green Sticker program -- which allows electric vehicles to use carpool lanes regardless of the number of occupants in the vehicle -- from 55,000 to 70,000 new cars.

Follow @melmason for more on California government and politics.

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