January 31, 2024

Your Guide to California's EV Rebates and EV Charging Incentives

8 Min. Read

California is taking a groundbreaking approach to tackling environmental challenges with a plan to become a carbon-neutral state by 2045.

A significant part of this plan consists of phasing out new internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle sales by 2035. California electric vehicle (EV) incentives are playing an important part in making EV ownership appealing, and the state is also developing a strong charging infrastructure to deliver a convenient experience for EV owners.

What Do I Need to Know About Charging My EV in California?

California has the best EV charging infrastructure in the country, with more than 93,000 public EV charging stations. Plus, with many of California’s EV owners also having access to at-home Level 2 EV charging, public EV chargers are able to serve as supplementary charging and charging for travelers rather than being fully dedicated to meeting the daily driving needs of EV drivers within the state.

Additionally, public EV charging infrastructure in California is growing quickly and the state recently invested more than $10 billion to deploy another 250,000 public EV chargers before 2035.

How Does California View EVs?

California EV incentives have helped to shape public opinion regarding EV adoption. As of 2023, there were more than 1.5 million Zero-Emission Vehicles on California’s roads, a number that puts the state two years ahead of schedule for its zero-emission plan and sets it as a leader in electrification across the country, especially when you consider that there were 1.2 million EVs sold in 2023 alone.

EV adoption in California is not something new. California has been among the first to adopt more tech-forward and sustainable technologies for years and the latest trend of electrification is helping to make it the friendliest state for electric vehicle ownership and EV charger installation as EVs become the transportation of the future.

Electric Vehicle Charging Basics in California

As the most EV-friendly state, it’s no surprise that California offers several options for charging, including public ports available at street parking spots and along major roadways; private options at hotels, malls, and other businesses; and at-home EV charging with incentives for EV charger installation and for charging during off-peak hours.

However, even with an extensive network of EV chargers the Golden State has a relatively low charger-to-EV ratio of 75 for public charging, and building additional charging locations will prove crucial in keeping up with the high rates of EV adoption that California is experiencing.

How Much Does It Cost to Fully Charge an Electric Vehicle in California?

Public charging typically costs an average of $0.20-$0.30 per kWh for public Level 2 EV charging stations and $0.40-$0.60 per kWh for DC Fast Charging.

When charging at home, EV owners in California can expect to pay an average rate of $0.1534 per kWh – costing significantly less than a gas-powered vehicle would require for the same range and cheaper than utilizing public charging stations as well.

Even though utilities charge an average price of $0.1534 per kWh in California, many utilities offer California EV incentives in the form of more affordable Time-of-Use (TOU) rates for those who charge their EVs outside of peak hours, which are determined by the utility depending on when people are most likely to need and use electricity.

With electric vehicles having an average battery capacity of 75 to 100 kWh and a standard range of 3-4 miles per kWh depending on the efficiency of the electric vehicle and driving habits, public charging will cost approximately $675-$1,350 for exclusively using public Level 2 EV chargers and $1,349-$2,698 for exclusively charging with DCFC chargers for the typical Californian driving in the state, while that same mileage will cost approximately $517-690 when charging at-home.

The cost to fully charge your EV in California will largely depend on where, how, and when you plug in to charge your electric vehicle.

Are There Any Free Public Electric Car Charging Stations in California?

Free charging is available in state parks, and some hotels and retailers offer free charging as a perk for customers and guests. Free charging stations are also more likely to be found in major cities and destinations, with the city of Los Angeles offering around 600 free public EV chargers.

Even with free charging available, stations remain limited, and relying solely on free public EV charging isn’t a viable way to keep your EV battery full.

What are the California Laws Regarding EV Charging?

There are many laws in California that support EV adoption and EV charger installation and protect EV drivers and many states look to California as a leader within the space.

For example, California has a right-to-charge law stating that tenants have a right to install a charging station within their unit or at a designated parking place, making a significant difference in facilitating access to EV charging for tenants.

The state also has guidelines that outline proper EV charger installation and require an EVITP certification for installers, which helps to improve the safety and efficiency of EV chargers installed in homes and businesses. Creating increased reliability for EV chargers is also a major hurdle for EV adoption, and by requiring the appropriate electrical training and licensing for EV charger installations, the state is creating a resilient charging infrastructure that residents can depend on.

The state’s legal framework also requires transparent billing at EV charging stations and states that hotels, multifamily buildings, and other facilities must have at least 10% of their charging spots equipped with EV chargers, which boosts accessibility and further creates a layer of trust in electric vehicle charging.

California is also actively improving its charging infrastructure with several measures that call for the ongoing assessment of the current charging capabilities by state entities, showing the state’s ongoing dedication to a truly sustainable electric vehicle future.

Important California Incentives to Know About

California EV incentives have played a crucial role in supporting high rates of EV adoption in the Golden State. The Clean Vehicle Rebate Project is a significant California EV rebate that helps cover the initial purchase or lease of a clean vehicle with a $1,000 to $7,500 rebate, in addition to federal incentives and updated tax credits through the Inflation Reduction Act.

There are also EV charger installation incentives available for eligible residents and businesses across the state, helping to further support at-home EV charger installation and a robust public and private EV charging infrastructure. While federal and state-wide programs exist, individual utilities may also offer discounted kWh rates, credits for EV charger installation, savings on purchasing an EV charger, or other benefits for EV charging and installation.

Commercial fleets can also qualify for grants at the state level, and the California EV rebate can be combined with the federal tax credit to save even more.

Important Local Incentives to Know About

Local incentives can be typically combined with state and federal programs to further offset the cost of purchasing an EV. For instance, El Dorado County residents can apply for an additional California EV rebate of $599, while the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District offers a California EV rebate of up to $3,000 to new EV owners.

Utilities often have their own electrification programs for energy transition technologies such as electric vehicles and EV chargers, which can include preferred TOU rates for EV charging or other rebates, so be sure to check with your local utility to see what programs or offerings are available.

Charging Station Rebates

For those interested in at-home Level 2 EV charging, several utilities are facilitating increased access to EV charging by offering California EV incentives in the form of rebates on the purchase of charging equipment or toward EV charger installation costs.

For example, Pacific Gas and Electric customers can receive up to $500, while Liberty Utilities offers a California EV rebate of up to $1,500 on charging equipment for eligible residents.

Important Upcoming Incentives

The current California EV rebate is being phased out and will soon be replaced by the Clean Cars 4 All program.

This new incentive would award up to $7,500 to low-income residents, with some families qualifying for as much as $12,000 by replacing an older ICE car with a ZEV. These savings can still be combined with other programs for even greater savings on purchasing an electric vehicle.

Latest News About California Incentives

In November 2023, California approved a $624 million investment, with half of the funds going toward the new Clean Cars 4 All program.

Data shows that privileged and educated areas have a higher EV adoption rate, and this new California EV rebate program could make EV adoption more equitable across the state.

Exploring Electrification Incentives in California

As a California resident, you can qualify for additional incentives designed to support a greener future. For instance, you can earn up to $3 per watt for a solar installation project through the California Solar Initiative.

If you’re interested in a battery system, you can also get a rebate through the Self-Generation Incentive Program offered by the California Public Utilities Commission, and you may be able to get up to $1,000 through a qualified contractor for the installation of a heat pump.

Qmerit can help you navigate these incentives and explore electrification options for your budget. Thanks to our nationwide network of certified professionals, we’ve installed over 269,000 EV charging stations and 18,500 battery storage systems, and upgraded more than 86,800 electric panels, making us the most experienced network of EV charger installers and electrification experts in North America.

But beyond having the experience, we’re also the most trusted network for energy transition technologies and services, with thousands of customers helping to make us the highest-rated installer in customer satisfaction.

Contact Qmerit today to learn more about our electrification solutions and find out why we’re North America’s premiere installation network for electrification services!

Author: Greg Sowder Greg Sowder President, Qmerit Network