If you had the opportunity to protect California’s students, teachers, and school staff, as well as make it easier to charge electric vehicles and create new jobs in the process, would you take it?
Governor Newsom is facing this very same decision as he considers AB 841 by Assembly Member Phil Ting. AB 841 passed the Legislature with wide, bipartisan vote margins and strong support from environmental, labor, education, and public health advocates. Further, AB 841 will not cost a dime in tax dollars. Yet, with only a few days left remaining to sign bills, the Governor has yet to act.
If signed into law, AB 841 would both protect California’s schools from dirty air as well as make it easier to install electric vehicle charging infrastructure. First, it proposes to use unspent energy efficiency dollars collected by utilities to pay for installing and modernize heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems at schools. Secondly, it expedites and streamlines the process of approving public vehicle charging projects.
Let us look at these two things separately.
AB 841 means clean air for schools…
Many schools are in dire need of new HVAC systems. According to the federal Government Accountability Office, over half of American school districts have facilities with HVAC deficiencies. This problem is particularly acute in high-poverty schools, which primarily serve students of color. In California, UC Davis found 85% of the state’s classrooms lack proper ventilation.
HVAC systems are not just for keeping a comfortable environment (which is important for student learning.) HVAC systems can protect human health by filtering out pollutants and pathogens. Imagine having to learn or teach in an environment filled with smoky air from wildfires or thick with the smell of diesel exhaust. Not only is such an environment not conducive to learning, but students, teachers, and staff are being put at risk by merely being at school.
…and more electric vehicle chargers!
California also needs more public electric vehicle charging stations to meet our commitments to EV drivers and all Californians. Currently, California is projected to have a shortage of 80,000 public electric vehicle chargers – 1/3 of the 250,000 chargers needed by 2025. AB 841 will increase the number of electric vehicle charging stations in the state by streamlining the approval process of electric vehicle infrastructure projects. Currently, public charger projects are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, resulting in an application backlog. Additionally, AB 841 would protect customers and the public by requiring workers who install these chargers to be trained in electric vehicle charging.
Zero-emissions vehicles are a key tool in California’s strategy in tackling the climate crisis and improving air quality. So much so, that California has pledged to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2023, 1.5 million by 2025 and 5 million by 2030. Yet, customers are hesitant to purchase an electric vehicle without charging options. This is especially true for those living without access to parking or in-home charging, such as those living in apartments.
The bills now head to the Assembly for committee consideration and final passage. We need you to contact your Assemblymember today and urge them to vote for both bills.