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Environmental Group On South Coast Helping Low And Middle Income People Get Into Electric Vehicles


Electric cars have moved from the novelty phase a decade ago to a common, environmentally friendly transportation alternative.  Now, a Santa Barbara based environmental group is trying to help low in middle income area residents get into EV's at low or even no cost.

Jesse and Ann Bickley of Santa Barbara are big EV fans.  They’re on their second electric car, and say between saving money, being environmentally conscious, and government and utility rebates, ownership make sense.

A new program on the Central and South Coasts is helping to expand the use of rebate programs to make zero emission vehicles available at little, or no cost for low, and moderate income drivers.

Michael Chiacos is the Director of Energy and Climate Programs for the Santa Barbara-based Community Environmental Council.  He says the goal is to accelerate transportation justice by getting more EV’s in the hands of people in the region during the next 16 months.

Low income communities have the lowest percentage of EV owners.  Chiacos says the equity focused effort basically helps people bundle available incentive programs.

Aside from the reduction in pollution, and gasoline cost savings by using the zero emission vehicles, there are substantial cost savings in operating them.  They don't need oil changes, and other design differences mean they need less frequent maintenanc

The biggest advantage of some of the older used EV’s is the cost, with some of them commonly available from $4,000 to $10,000.  But, the older vehicles often have a limited range of around 100 miles before needing a charge.  Those with the grant effort say they may be good cost effective second vehicles.

The good news is the availability of charging stations, with the number on the Central and South Coasts topping 1,000, and still rising. 

You can find the CEC's EV grant program at:

There is an online quiz you can take to help determine if you are eligible for the assistance.