If you commute to work or school and drive through the western end of the county, you might be eligible to use the Highway 50 HOV lane while most fellow commuters toil and swelter in the other lanes. Under a new grant program issued through the El Dorado County Air Quality Management District (AQMD) called “Drive Clean!” the district may be able to pass along a $1,000 incentive to help defer the cost of a new car purchase or lease. The California Air Resources Board has White or Green stickers entitling eligible vehicles to unrestricted use of the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes.
County Air Quality engineer Adam Baughman described the program in a recent prepared statement to the Mountain Democrat. There is a two-part application process: First a pre-approval and then, after purchase or lease, an application for the incentive part.
The basic requirements include being a resident of El Dorado County and being a commuter on Highway 50 in the El Dorado Hills or Cameron Park area (the HOV lane sections) for school or work. The new vehicle has to be on the ARB White or Green sticker list, and the applicant must agree to own or lease the new vehicle for at least three years.
The ARB list is available online at: http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/carpool/carpool.htm.
The local AQMD Website notes that the division will respond to a pre-approval application within five business days, while the incentive, if available will be processed after about 60 days from receipt of the complete incentive packet of documents. It also notes that the AQMD does not “guarantee” the incentive which is based on limited availability of grant funds.
Baughman responded to questions about the size of the program, its progress so far and the number of potential incentives the county will award.
“We’ll be able to fund at least 200 vehicles,” Baughman wrote. “The vehicles have to be purchased after the May 1 date and must be pre-approved by AQMD (already had someone call who bought a vehicle in March and wanted the rebate!) We’ve already had one purchase and submit for a claim, so this could go quick.”