Owner Profiles

Plug-in Electric Vehicles (PEV) are becoming increasingly more popular especially in California and in Santa Cruz. Numerous local residents drive PEVs because they significantly reduce greenhouse gases, save money on gas and maintenance, and they are fun to drive. Rebate and Incentive programs make leasing or buying a new or or used EV possible for many low-to-moderate income individuals. Click here to learn more about EVs for Everyone.

The following are brief profiles on local PEV owners:

Tyler Port-Gaarn, Watsonville Charter School of the Arts Teacher with his 2015 Chevy Volt

Tyler Port-Gaarn, Purchased 2015 Chevy Volt

Through the EVs for Everyone Program I received one-on-one help from a Purchase Guidance Advisor, and I received both educational advisement as to my car options and a clear path to $5000 in grant money that I used as a down payment on my Volt. With the $5,000 grant from the Clean Vehicle Assistance Program (CVAP) and a $700 rebate from Central Coast Community Energy (3CE) my net cost was $7,900! Goodbye and good riddance to my old gas clunker and hello to reliable transportation that saves me money and is better for the environment.

Rita Rivera with her 2020 Chevy Bolt

Rita Rivera, 2020 Leased Bolt

I was an investor in Tesla several years ago. I’ve always been jazzed about electric cars and looked forward to the day that I would be driving one! I saw Kristen Liske a few days after she picked up her car and she immediately asked if I wanted to drive it, I did – and she told me about all the rebates that were available, and I knew I wanted to go through the process.

Michael Saint, EVs for Everyone Purchase Guidance Advisor, was a great support in the securing the lease.

One reason that I chose the Bolt was that it has very good battery mileage, and I liked the look of the car. Thanks for all you do to get more folks into an electric vehicle through the EVs for Everyone Purchase Guidance Program.

Ana Rasmussen of Santa Cruz with Sparky

Ana Rasmussen, Purchased 2015 Chevrolet Spark

I decided to get an Electric Vehicle because it felt worse and worse to drive a gas-powered, air-polluting car to destinations around Santa Cruz City and County. The idea of driving here and there in an EV was intriguing, then more and more appealing, and eventually the “Right Thing to Do.” Of course, I would not have been able to make that step without the generous incentives from the Clean Vehicle Assistance Program (CVAP) and Central Coast Community Energy (3CE). Those rebates made getting an EV actually within reach of my modest income.

Equally important in the process was the astoundingly supportive guidance I got from Michael Saint, one of the EVs for Everyone Purchase Guidance Advisors. We had more than 40 emails back and forth, and several phone calls. He patiently answered every question and concern I had in a timely and kind manner. Always upbeat; never pushy or frustrated. I truly would not have been able to navigate this new world of EV ownership without Mike’s support.

As for choosing which EV was right for me, originally, I wanted a Nissan LEAF. I saw them all over Santa Cruz and liked the way they look. However, I couldn’t find one I could afford that met the CVAP purchase requirements. When I shifted my focus to Chevy Spark, I found one right away. I’ve had Sparky for almost a month now and couldn’t be happier! It is such a smooth ride. It’s also responsive, quick, easy to park, and so quiet. I wasn’t quite sure if it would work well for my lifestyle but so far, so good. I’ve loaded it with my dog, grandkids, gardening tools, seedlings, groceries, swim gear–all without hesitation.

Steven Caldwell, 2020 Leased Chevrolet Bolt

I have owned a hybrid Prius for 10 years and have been very happy with its performance, but to go all electric has always been on my mind. I’m retired and don’t drive that much any more so I wondered if would be worth time and money to make the switch. As it run out it is well worth it, and I’m now the proud owner of a 2020 Chevy Bolt!

The Bolt is a comfortable, fun to drive and has a 259 mile range. I got a 3-year lease for a total of $5,000 (no monthly payments) and I qualify for the $4,500 California Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. Do the math…What’s not to like!

I have to thank my Electric Vehicle Purchase Guidance Navigators Michael Saint, Seth Capron, and Sabrina Delk for all their help, especially streamlining the auto dealer process. I was introduced Michael Saint by my good friend, Seth Capron, at the Electric Car Show in Aromas a couple of years ago. Their EV knowledge is vast and their enthusiasm is very contagious.

Ron Sandidge, Purchased 2017 Fiat 500e, Guido Sarducci

I recently purchased a 2017 Fiat 500e from a small, local car dealership, Santa Cruz Motors. Over the last 18 months, I have been looking for the right vehicle to meet my needs. During that time, I have watched many YouTube videos, read countless reviews, and talked with mechanics. I considered both all electric vehicles and plug-in-hybrids. Through my friend, Dennis Osmer, Executive Director Central Coast Energy Services, I learned more and he recommended EV Community Ambassador, Micheal Saint, who helps assist individuals through the buying process through Ecology Action’s EV Purchase Guidance Program.

Micheal specializes in helping new EV buyers select and purchase a car that fits the person’s lifestyle and budget. He guided me the whole way with tips about buying, state rebates and incentives, advice on applications to fill out. Mike even contacted me with information about the car I ended up purchasing at Santa Cruz Motors with great service by Joaquin Saldana.

Thanks to Dennis, Micheal, and Joaquin I have the vehicle that meets my needs! I also appreciate the Monterey Bay Electric Vehicle Alliance and Ecology Action for the work being done to get folks to realize the importance as well as the ease of “going electric.”

Morgan Vetter and his Energica SS9

Morgan Vetter, Electric Motorcyclist, Energica SS9

A Monterey Bay native, Morgan grew up in a motorcycle family. The younger son of motorcycle industry pioneer, Craig Vetter, he learned to ride shortly after he could walk. In 2017 he shifted the focus of his life to electric motorcycles and figuring out how to maximize their potential by improving things like charging rates and thermal management.

Since then he has rigorously tested almost every electric motorcycle firsthand and is able to talk about the strong points of each brand and model, and which ones are suited to people’s individual needs. In 2019 he sold his Zero SR to purchase an Energica SS9 and immediately put over 10,000 miles on it. He does not own a car and rides year round, rain or shine.

Electric may not be for everybody, but if you love motorcycles and the idea of an electric one is appealing, there are few people more qualified to speak from experience about all the brands and models in existence.

“I don’t ever want go back to gas!”

Piet Canin with his Leased 2020 Bolt

Piet Canin, 2020 Bolt

On Halloween 2020, I paid a one time price of $6,874.90 for a 3 year Bolt lease. Thanks to Mike Saint for setting up the deal with Chevrolet of Watsonville which was quick and easy. I was at the dealer for less than an hour. My Monterey Bay Air Resource District (MBARD) $2,000 application has been accepted already and I started the CA rebate process. With rebates I’ll be out some $2,500 (including lease return fee of $400). When I sell my 08 Prius, I’ll have some decent pocket change left over.

It felt so good to pass my local gas station knowing I didn’t ever have to stop, pump and pay for gasoline. Thanks to everyone for their encouragement. I’ll be an EV driver without home charging and plan on using public and my employer charging stations. The Bolt’s long range makes me feel comfortable in this regard.

Micheal Saint stands between his plug-in 2013 Chevy Volt and Tesla Model 3

Owner Profile, Chevy Volt & Tesla Model 3

Micheal Saint has been a resident in Santa Cruz County for 31 years. Micheal retired from the airline industry five years ago after 41 years of service. He lives in Aptos with his lovely wife Elizabeth and son Matthew.

Micheal purchased his plug-in 2013 Chevrolet Volt in 2016, which travels 40 miles on battery and has a range of 350 miles with the gas turbine generator as backup. He also owns a Tesla Model 3 with 310 miles of electric range.

Mr. Saint is an avid EV enthusiast who has volunteered at Ecology Action for the last four years, doing test drives at EV shows and helping with EV webinars. He also provides guidance to the community with education on EV options, and guiding them through the process of purchasing an EV.

Micheal states, “I feel going electric has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. It helps the environment, saves me money, and is so fun to drive. I will never return to a fossil fuel car.”

Patricia Damron with her used 2012 Nissan Leaf.

Owner Profile, Used 2012 Nissan Leaf with Battery Replacement

Patricia Damron with her used 2012 Nissan Leaf. Battery was replaced in 2016. Her used Leaf came with the battery replacement and a drive-over charging pad. Cost: $4800

Patricia Damron lives and works mostly from Santa Cruz, driving to her company’s office in Los Gatos one day/week. She has dreamed of owning an electric car for years, but EVs seemed out of her price range. Then, in December, her friend purchased a 2012 Nissan Leaf EV for $4200. It only had 45k miles and goes 50 miles on a charge. And it was really nice to drive!

“I suddenly realized that an EV was in my price range after all, and since I have a small pickup truck I can use for longer trips, it made sense to do what my friend did. So I found a 2012 Leaf on Craigslist for $4800 with a replaced battery, all the bells and whistles, and a drive-over charging pad so I don’t even have to plug in to charge! And it’s a pleasure to drive!”

Her 2012 Leaf gets 70 miles per charge with a newer battery from 2016. The car rides like a dream and is more comfortable than the VW Golf SportWagen she had been driving. She lives north of Santa Cruz and can drive to Watsonville and back, Scotts Valley or Los Gatos as needed without having to charge. The Leaf came with a high speed charger in case she wants to take longer trips.

“Since 95% of my driving is local, it made sense to buy an EV with a low mileage range, which made it affordable.” Her friend installed a used 240V charger for her at her home, for a total cost of $200. Thank you Craigslist!

Living out of town, she now feels no guilt taking that extra trip to the store, to visit a friend or to do other errands. “I can drive to town and back a few times before even having to charge. I love how the car handles, and I LOVE that I’ll NEVER take it to a gas station!”

Scott Roseman New Leaf
Scott Roseman stands in front of New Leaf Community Markets with his CMAX Energi (Photo Credit: Annie K. Rowland, www.akrowlandphotography.com)

Owner Profile, Ford CMAX Energi

Scott Roseman has lived in Santa Cruz County for 36 years, making his mark as the co-owner of the thriving New Leaf Community Markets local grocery stores. Scott and his wife Jasmine Berke have a busy family life with 4 grown children and 4 grandchildren. Last November, Scott purchased the Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicle Ford CMAX Energi which travels some 21-miles on battery only mode.

Scott is able to drive mainly on battery power as he travels from home and work as well as run errands from his downtown office. Overall he averages about 1,000 miles per month driving the CMAX Energi. Charging the Plugin is easy with convenient and free electric vehicle charging stations at the City of Santa Cruz’s Front & Soquel Street parking garage as well as charging at his home. At home Scott charges his CMAX from a standard 110 volt outlet that replenishes the battery overnight.
Since the CMAX Energi is a plugin hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) it does also run on gas but with mostly battery only around town trips, Scott is able to drive 700 to 1,000 miles before refueling at a gas station.

“I like the feel of driving the vehicle, especially in EV mode, plus knowing that I am not using gas,” explains the local grocery store owner, who adds “The car drives well, has good pickup and handling, is comfortable to sit in, and good views of the road, unlike my previous hybrid.”

Joel back of Leaf
Joel Kauffman with his baby and dog check the waves in Santa Cruz with their Nissan Leaf (Photo Credit: Annie K. Rowland, www.akrowlandphotography.com)

Owner Profile: Nissan Leaf

Joel Kauffman is a native of Santa Cruz who lives on the westside of town with his wife and their baby girl. The Kauffmans recently purchased a 2013 Nissan Leaf which is the best selling all electric plugin electric vehicle (PEV).

The Kaufmann family drives the Leaf approximately 110 miles per week for shopping, chores and surfing. Joel loads up his surfboard in the surprisingly spacious hatchback to seek out waves from Waddell Beach to Moss Landing. The Leaf allows Joel to enjoy his water passion with significantly reduced negative greenhouse gas emission caused by gasoline cars.

“Way better all around car then I hoped – beats my previous owned hybrid by far for handling, visibility and ergonomics,” stated Joel, who also likes using less energy, not ever pumping gas, and getting most of his car power from the sun.

For longer vacation trips the Kaufmann’s rely on an older gas car for those infrequent journeys.

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