The air is expected to get a little cleaner in Contra Costa County over the next two years.

That is thanks in part to a transportation program funded mostly by the California Energy Commission, which is giving $3.5 million to the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and MCE, a Bay Area clean energy nonprofit, for electric travel.

The electric travel program called Charge Up Contra Costa is expected to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the county by more than 50,000 tons. The program will provide rebates for the installation of electric vehicle charging stations, and promote electric vehicle car sharing, eBikes and workforce development.

“We want to make it easier and more convenient for our residents to own and operate an EV and save hundreds of dollars in fuel every year,” said John Gioia, MCE board director and supervisor in Contra Costa County, in a statement. “Expanding access to charging infrastructure is critical to increasing the sale and use of zero-emission EVs.”

YouTube video
Contra Costa County partners with Míocar to offer car sharing services in Richmond. (Video courtesy of Míocar/YouTube)

According to MCE and the county transportation authority, drivers can save over $650 a year in fuel on average by driving an electric vehicle. MCE is offering workplaces and multifamily residences up $5,500 in rebate money for every installation of an electric vehicle charging station.

Commuters are six times more likely to drive an electric vehicle if their residence or workplace provides a charging option, according to MCE and the transportation authority.

Charge Up Contra Costa already offers EV car sharing in Richmond through Míocar. Charge Up Contra Costa also offers rebates for eBikes for qualified customers, and it is partnering with RichmondBUILD and Future Build to develop the county’s clean energy workforce.

MCE and the transportation authority are providing $840,000 in matching funding.

Keith Burbank is currently a fulltime reporter covering Alameda County and Oakland news for Bay City News. He has also worked on the Data Points project for Local News Matters, finding trends and stories about the region through data. In 2019, he was a California Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, producing a series about homeless deaths in Santa Clara County. He worked as a swing shift editor for the newswire for several years as well. Outside of journalism, Keith enjoys computer programming, math, economics and music.