Senate Drafts Plug-ins into Energy Bill, But Time for Action May Be Running Out

· · 10 years ago

Senate Democrats decided this afternoon to fold the Promoting Electric Vehicles Act of 2010 into the pared-down remnants of the climate bill. In closed-door negotiations, Democrats tacked at least $3.8 billion in electric vehicle incentives onto a draft of the bill—though more money is expected to be added later on in the process in the form of tax incentives. Exactly what those incentives will be and how much they will cost is not yet clear, but earlier estimates for the total cost of the bill were in the $6 billion range.

Among the highlights for plug-in vehicles:

  • An additional $2,500 per vehicle purchase credit that would extend the federal EV refund amount from $7,500 to $10,000.
  • Requires the Secretary of Energy to formulate a national plan for electric vehicle deployment, including targets for the number of new plug-ins on the road by 2020 and 2030.
  • Establishes anywhere between 5-15 deployment communities, which would target general funds toward creating hot zones of electric vehicle infrastructure.
  • Directs the Secretary to provide assistance to local governments in developing regulations and standards toward infrastructure installation.
  • Establishes a DOE program to address lithium ion battery recycling—including identifying possible uses for batteries that are still functional but no longer suitable for electric cars.
  • Creates a program within the National Academy of Sciences to collect and study data from vehicles and charging stations, and provide recommendations for future adoption efforts.
  • Creates loan guarantees for entities that purchase more than 200 electric vehicle batteries for non-automotive applications (in attempt to help scale-up battery production and bring costs down.)
  • Creates a committee to advise the Secretary of Energy on electric vehicle adoption and an interagency task force to coordinate related federal efforts.

Ron Minsk of the Electrification Coalition—the pro-EV interest group whose recommendations the legislation is based on—told the Plug-in 2010 conference in San Jose today that the Senate bill could very well be the last hope for meaningfully extending federal support for electric vehicles. With Congressional midterm elections threatening to significantly alter the balance of power on Capitol Hill this November, Minsk emphasized that it was "really important that the legislation gets done in this session," urging attendees to call on their representatives to provide as much pressure as possible in favor of PEVA.

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