Electric truck

EL CENTRO — To achieve California’s air quality and climate goals, the Air Resources Board is developing a medium and heavy-duty zero emission (electric) fleet regulation that would affect the Imperial Irrigation District. Governor Newsom, through executive order, has mandated 100 percent zero emission vehicles (ZEV) for public utilities by 2035. The mandates include big rigs, drayagetrucks, terminal tractors, forklifts, and other industrial equipment.

The IID will be required to purchase 50 percent ZEV of the 2024-26 model years and 100 percent of 2027 and newer model years. 

Besides the purchase, the IID will need charging stations for the fleet to cover the considerable service area of the District.

Henry Martinez, IID general manager, spoke about the challenges presented by the push for electric vehicles, especially for its utility vehicles at the April 13 regular board meeting. 

“When power goes out, fleet electrification is not suitable,” Martinez told the Board. “We have rapid response emergency scenarios, and the State does not recognize utility fleets as emergency response vehicles.”

He said specialized utility vehicles must operate as long as they are needed to complete the job at hand. They travel long distances over difficult terrain, they go to remote areas and operate for extended times, all obstacles for an electric vehicle which needs frequent charging.

Charging stations may not be available in remote areas where the emergency exists, and vehicles are operating for unending hours, according to Martinez. 

Martinez said the District will change its workforce training from engines to batteries.

The IID will seek exemptions for emergency response specialty vehicles from the State at least until proven technology catches up to the imposed clean fleets, according to the IID.

Besides fueling the IID fleet, the District is working to assure adequate generational capacity to meet the upcoming demand for the County’s transportation needs and the energy pull from normal usage, such as charging electrical vehicles using off-peak electricity generation. The District is also working on developing and deploying accessible charging infrastructure for the public.

The District must also anticipate load usage per charging infrastructure and a control strategy to diminish overload impact as the population switches to electric vehicles. The IID is developing rates and programs to influence customer behavior and educational outreach to effectively manage the new driving patterns of its customers.

All of this will come at a high financial impact to the District, which could raise rates.

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