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May 15, 2023  |  Written by Alyson E. Ackerman

Compliance with California Air Resources Board’s Impending Advanced Clean Fleet Requirements for State and Local Agencies Sparks Lively Panel Discussion at ACWA Conference

For three days last week, the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) hosted its members – over 460 public water agencies collectively delivering approximately 90 percent of the water throughout California for domestic, agricultural, and industrial uses – and their counsel at its spring conference in Monterey, California. Among the rich and timely programming ACWA offered was the Fleet Electrification: Navigating New California Requirements for Public Water Agencies session (Fleet Session). The Fleet Session provided a robust panel discussion regarding the impact of California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) proposed Advanced Clean Fleet Requirements for State and Local Agencies (Public Agency Clean Fleet Reg or Reg) and steps certain agencies are taking now to navigate those forthcoming regulations and forecast compliance, while maintaining their essential public service operational requirements and redundancy needs.


The Public Agency Clean Fleet Reg aims to accelerate the deployment of Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) and Near-Zero Emission Vehicles. ZEV are either fully electric-powered or hydrogen-fueled vehicles, as they must produce “zero exhaust emission of any criteria pollutant (or precursor pollutant) or greenhouse gas under any possible operational modes or conditions.” (Reg, § 2013, subd. (b) [zero-emissions vehicle definition].)

The Fleet Panel highlighted the basics of the Public Agency Clean Fleet Reg, noting that its scope is broad, applying to any public agency with vehicles. Specifically, section 2013 of the Reg states:

[T]his regulation applies to any state or local government agency with jurisdiction in California that owns, leases, or operates one or more vehicles … that have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 8,500 pounds that are operated in California.

(Reg, § 2013, subd. (a)(1) & (2), emphasis added.) In addition, the Reg categorizes vehicles into eight different classes based upon the GVWR, classifying “light-duty” vehicles as those with a “GVWR less than or equal to 8,500 lbs.” to “Class 8” vehicles as those with a “GVWR greater than 33,000 [pounds].” (Reg, § 2013, subd. (b)(A)-(H) [weight class definition].)

Compliance Options

Critical to the Fleet Session was the discussion that public agencies may comply with the Public Agency Clean Fleet Reg through one of two options, referred to as “schedules.” One schedule is time-based (default), while the other is milestone-based.

  1. Time-Based Schedule: Beginning January 1, 2024, 50 percent of purchases to the fleet made in each calendar year must be ZEV, and starting January 1, 2027, 100 percent of purchases to the fleet made in each calendar year must be ZEV. (See Reg, § 2013, subd. (d)(1)(A)-(B).)  A “vehicle purchase” includes placing an order to acquire legal or equitable title to a vehicle, but expressly does not include renewing leases of vehicles that are already in the fleet. (See Reg, § 2013, subd. (b) [vehicle purchase definition].)
  2. Milestone-Based Schedule: Until January 1, 2030, fleet owners may elect to permanently comply with the ZEV milestones applicable to “High Priority and Federal Fleets.” (Reg, § 2013, subd. (e).) If an entity elects the milestone option, it must report such election/intention and may not switch back to the Public Agency Clean Fleet Reg. Instead, such an entity will remain bound to comply with the regulation for High Priority and Federal Fleets (i.e., future California Code of Regulations, title 13, sections 2015-2015.6).


The Fleet Session panelists discussed some of the relatively narrow exemptions to the Public Agency Clean Fleet Reg, such as those for heavy cranes and dedicated snow removal equipment. (Reg, § 2013, subd. (c).) However, both panelists and audience members expressed hope that the emergency vehicle exemption – currently applying only to life-saving vehicles (i.e., ambulances) and fire apparatus – will undergo expansion to include additional vehicles owned and operated by water service purveyors, like ACWA members, given the essential public purposes such agencies provide.

Preparing for Implementation

Finally, each panelist independently stressed the importance of planning for the Public Agency Clean Fleet Reg’s implementation for various reasons, including the following:

  • Current limited availability of ZEV to demonstrate and, thus, determine whether the ZEV meet the agency’s needs – such as torque and range – and the resulting importance of partnering with manufacturers to meet such industry needs;
  • Budget forecasting because ZEV tend to cost approximately 30-50 percent more than diesel and alternative-fueled (e.g., compressed natural gas) vehicles;
  • Communicating with power providers to ensure the timing in which an agency’s increased power needs will comport with the arrival and recharging of ZEV added to a fleet;
  • Strategizing configurations of fleet vehicles to accommodate the increased weight and space demands of the batteries on electric-powered ZEV; and
  • Maintenance planning for ZEV and any resulting training for public agency staff to perform maintenance on ZEV.

Fleet Session Panelists

Panelists included personnel from ACWA member agencies Metropolitan Water District and Truckee Donner Public Utility District, as well as personnel from Pacific Gas & Electric. Terra Verde moderated the panel, keeping the audience engaged with industry-related puns and opportunities to propose questions to the panel. Somach Simmons & Dunn appreciates ACWA’s commitment to excellent content at its semi-annual conferences and representation of its clients’ interests through its various committees.

Status of Public Agency Clean Fleet Reg & ACWA’s Involvement in Reg Development

CARB held the initial public hearing for the Public Agency Clean Fleet Reg last year on October 27, 2022. ACWA submitted public comments on the Reg, proposing substantive revisions and suggesting real-world considerations. CARB staff proposed revisions to the Reg in March 2023, and public comment on the revisions closed on April 7, 2023. On April 17, 2023, CARB released the final text of the Public Agency Clean Fleet Reg, which is available here. If you have any questions regarding the Public Agency Clean Fleet Reg, please contact:

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