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Clean Transport house of representatives days off

Published on January 15th, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan

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3 EV Tax Credits Now Gone Due To Unproductive Congress

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January 15th, 2014 by Zachary Shahan 

Originally published on EV Obsession.

First of all, a quick note on why I support EV tax credits: we need to switch from gasmobiles to EVs in order to avert catastrophic global warming, in order to stop killing countless people and animals through air pollution, and in order to cut the national security threat that is our addiction to oil. I think the much better drive and financial benefits of EVs will sell the cars once more people are aware of them, but until then, we need government incentives to correct for market failures that don’t adequately include the price of health damage and death in the cost of gasoline. Correcting for market failures is one of the key roles that government should play.

Now, with that out of the way, on to the story:

Further proof that we have a do-nothing Congress came at the end of 2013, when our legislators failed to renew three important electric vehicle tax credits. Basically, they just didn’t get around to it before the New Year’s break. A total of 55 tax breaks went unaddressed.

  • The first credit, up to $1,000, was for homeowner alternative vehicle refueling, including the purchase of a 240-volt Level 2 EV charging station.
  • The second, for up to $2,500, could be used to offset up to 10 percent of the purchase price of an electric motorcycle (or three-wheeled EV).
  • The third, for businesses, allowed them a credit for up to 30 percent of an EV charger purchase, up to $30,000.

According to Brian Wynne, president of the Washington-based Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA), “We think these credits are valuable and are working to renew them. The charging credit is alternative-fuel neutral, so it goes beyond electric cars.”

Wynne said that credit renewal was stalled in part by some discussion of tax reform, led by Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), who is retiring. “They had a run on that, and it delayed looking at the extenders,” Wynne said. “I don’t think there was intent to let the incentives expire—that wasn’t the focus.”

More on Senator Baucus can be found here.

More on the ridiculously unproductive House of Representatives we have today can be found here:

house of representatives days off

And here’s more excellent commentary from Jim Motavalli:

Intent or not, Congress has set a pattern of renewing credits like this for only a year, then leaving a lot of confusion in the market as it drags out the renewal process. The classic case is the wind production tax credit, which is worth 2.3 cents for every kilowatt-hour of electricity generated. That was one of the 55 credits that expired, and according to the Washington Post, “The fact that the credit constantly expires has also created a fair amount of uncertainty for the industry.”

Both of the EV credits that expired had been the victim of the one-year renewal process. That makes it difficult for companies that make charging stations or electric motorcycles to plan on what kind of sales year they’ll have. “Why is it that EV, solar and wind credits are the ones that have these sunset dates?” asked Tom Saxton, chief science officer at Plug In America.

Jay Friedland, Plug In America’s senior policy adviser, said his group worked to renew the credits that expired at the end of 2011, and although they were absent for much of 2012, they later became retroactive. That process will now have to start all over again. “Congress is ridiculous,” Friedland said.

If there’s any silver lining in this, it’s that Baucus is likely to be replaced on the Senate Finance Committee by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), a big EV proponent who will probably push for early renewal of the tax credits.

Also dead for the time being are incentives that encourage people to take buses and trains, buy energy-efficient appliances and install renewable energy. Breaks few people will miss help NASCAR to build racetracks, subsidize the write-off of race horses, and save on expenses for motion picture producers.

It would be good news if Congress got around to renewing these EV tax credits. But much better news would be if we got a half-decent Congress in there that actually took doing its job seriously, rather than simply working to make government a failure. (Ahem, we know which party is intent on selling government as a failure, don’t we? How we expect them to go against their message and actually work for positive and productive leadership?)

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About the Author

spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as the director/chief editor. Otherwise, he's probably enthusiastically fulfilling his duties as the director/editor of Solar Love, EV Obsession, Planetsave, or Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and wind energy expert. If you would like him to speak at a related conference or event, connect with him via social media. You can connect with Zach on any popular social networking site you like. Links to all of his main social media profiles are on ZacharyShahan.com.



  • Otis11

    Just going to say – instead of subsidizing electric vehicles (which I fully support) or renewable energy (which i also support), it would be much more efficient (even if less popular) to tax the negative behavior. Put a pollution tax on gas (and FFs in general) and let everything else sort itself out on a FAIR and open market. (have to make the tax substantial enough to actually account for externalities in order for it to be fair…)

    • Bob_Wallace

      Agreed. But I think pretty much impossible to legislate.

      As long as Republicans have control of the House absolutely nothing will happen. And there are problems even with Democratic members of Congress who come from fossil fuel states. They can’t support carbon taxes and get reelected.

      • Otis11

        Sadly, we’ve structured our government in such a way that neither party would dare make such an unpopular move, even if it would be better for everyone involved in the long run…

        Subsidizing certain products and types of products simply encourages consumption while still allowing the vast majority to continue business-as-usual. It does very little to discourage the bad behavior and costs a lot more than necessary.

        Tax the negative behavior into oblivion with very small taxes that increase every year and use that money to cut down our debt and better fund education! (instead of increasing debt and still managing to cut our education budgets…) /end rant

  • Doug

    I’d rather the government spend the money instead on converting government vehicles to EV and installing chargers at government buildings. Direct investment is always better than a subsidy

  • Wayne Williamson

    Ok, lets just stick with the actual article. All of them have to do with the charger …none of them with an actual ev…. and none of them are game changing….

  • Gus Escher

    When talking about politicians, it’s wise to avoid words like “smart” or “stupid”. Most elected officials are pretty smart. But generally, they vote as required by the need to get re-elected, which means in accordance with their contributors’ desires. America doesn’t have a energy policy because big oil doesn’t want America to have an energy policy. We have fossil fuel subsidies because fossil fuel interests pay their representatives to keep it that way. So let’s keep pushing for a green world, but let’s understand it won’t happen until some very large and wealthy interests want it to happen. And that day may be sooner than we think.

  • Chris_in_Raleigh

    And the North Carolina state legislature just levied a $100 per year “fee” on EV owners.

    http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/01/10/3522102/in-place-of-gas-taxes-nc-electric.html

    This is the same legislature that actually removed EV charging stations from state rest stops!

    • Neil

      How often were those chargers used….how long are you going to stop in your leaf/volt to charge on level 2…. Off I-40?? Much better would be many more 120 volt spots in longer public parking areas…I’m sorry but I don’t see how much use those really were unless they were level 3 which I highly doubt. -Neil in NC

      • Doug

        In the past few years, a lot of chargers were installed in inappropriate places. Rest stops didn’t make sense until the Model S came out. Now, they would be good to have between cities, although I think there are enough towns in NC to not require them in distant rest areas.

  • sault

    Just imagine what we would hear if dirty energy tax breaks were repealed:
    “This war on coal, motherhood and apple pie has got to stop! The government is picking winners by not giving us favorable treatment, instituting top-down, command and control scare tactics in order to subject our poor rich job creators to the forces of the market. We encourage you to tell your representative in Congress the facts that we made up in our PR department so that the American People can breathe in more pollution while we laugh all the way to the bank with the profits!”

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