House/Senate Jump for Electric Vehicle Legislation in Climate Bill

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In a sign that suggests that legislators are turning their attention to renewable energy amendments for the climate and clean energy bill, three Senators and four House members have come up with virtually identical bills to ease the cost of transition to electric vehicle adoption in the US in the same way that the Japanese Government jump-started the Prius in its early days, with an increase in targeted subsidies. The similarity shows foresight, for that will ease the reconciliation between House and Senate bills later, if they make it that far.

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The way related (renewable energy, in this case) bills work, is that they get added to bigger bills (in this case, the American Power Act).  That’s how bills get big: they have lots of individual policy ideas in them.  The Electric Drive Vehicle Deployment Act of 2010 would become part of the climate bill in floor amendments, after (and if) it can hurdle the 60 vote filibuster.

Senators Dorgan (D-ND) Alexander (R-TN) and Merkley (D-OR) and Representatives Markey (D-MA) Biggert (R-IL) and California Democrats Jerry McNerney and Anita Eshoo propose to invest about $10 billion to accelerate the adoption of electric cars with $10,000 rebates and incentives for infrastructure development. For now, they have two Republicans, but don’t count on that to stop a Senate filibuster. Chip in a few dollars a month to help support independent cleantech coverage that helps to accelerate the cleantech revolution!

The legislation draws heavily on the research and advice of the 170 page Electrification Roadmap offered by the Electrification Coalition. They do simulation studies with large-scale econometric models and public policy research on energy.

Their researchers find that the best way to transition the nation to electrified driving is to do it in steps. First make a complete support system in a small number of geographic areas or clusters to drive dense concentrations of infrastructure, vehicles, and IT network support, laying the groundwork for widespread adoption of grid-enabled vehicles beyond 2020.

The regions would be selected by Secretary Chu based on willingness to share costs, and on the active participation of local governments, businesses and utility companies. The bill extends the 50 percent tax credit for communities to build charging stations and grants of up to $250 million would help to develop infrastructure, like increasing the number of transformers and power lines locally, building charging stations and training local repair mechanics in community colleges – creating an entire new “electrification ecosystem”

The Department of Energy would create between five and fifteen “deployment communities” across the country with the aim of deploying 700,000 electric vehicles over the first  five years.

Rebates are found by the Electrification Coalition to be more effective than tax credits in driving change in consumer behavior. Currently there is a $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicle purchases, but few electric vehicles available that qualify for it at middle class prices.

The Volt, the TH!NK and the Leaf are due to be released in small numbers this year and more, next year. The $10,000 rebate would cover the approximate cost (initially) of the battery pack in a Chevrolet Volt or a Nissan Leaf, bringing them to about $22,000. As more people adopt electric vehicles, these costs would go down and the rebates would phase out.

Image: The Truth About Cars

Source: Sunpluggers


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