Sunset on Bolivia's starkly beautiful Salar de Uyuni salt flats
One of the provisions of the Electric Vehicle Deployment Act is an in depth study of resource availability issues, including lithium and rare earth elements critical to electric vehicles. Photo is of sunset on Bolivia's starkly beautiful Salar de Uyuni salt flats, thought to possess the largest single deposit of lithium carbonate in the world.

U.S. Electrification Roadmap Introduced in Congress

U.S. House and Senate bills provide up to $4 billion in funding

By Bill Moore

If either of two bills today enrolled in Congress succeed in becoming law, America will have taken its first step down the Electrification Coalition's roadmap, first discussed here on EV World last November. [See also our recent video interview with the founder of the coalition, Robbie Diamond].

The concept behind the Electrification Coalition's roadmap is to concentrate the roll-out of large numbers of electric vehicles and their supporting infrastructure in a half-dozen communities, large and small, which have competitively earned the right to federal matching grants, guaranteed bonds, and consumer tax incentives. It is the group's roadmap that has served as the starting point for these bipartisan bills, one introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, and a similar Senate bill sponsored by Senators Dorgan, Alexander, and Merkley.

EV World received an early draft version of the Electric Vehicle Deployment Act of 2010, which calls for a five-year, phase one initiative involving at least five communities, including one with a population under 125,000. The draft version of the House bill stipulates that the Energy Department has one year to select the participating communities. Within 120 days of the bill becoming law, the Department must publish the qualifying criteria to be selected as a program participant. This criteria, the draft measure states, must include the following:

In applying for selection as deployment communities, communities shall state a proposed level of cost share for grants available to deployment communities, documentation demonstrating a substantial partnership with relevant stakeholders, a plan for deploying publicly available charging infrastructure, a description of equipment to be deployed, including assurances that equipment to be deployed will meet open, nonproprietary standards, a marketing plan, descriptions of updated building codes (or a plan to update building codes before or during the grant period) to include charging infrastructure, as appropriate in new construction and major renovations, a description of utility policies and plans for accommodating the deployment of plug-in electric drive vehicles, and other relevant information.
And the reward for all this effort? A share in as much as $4 billion dollars that is being asked for to fund the program. However, winning communities also must demonstrate the ability to fund at least 20 percent on a cost share basis. To help make this less of a burden on already cash-strapped municipalities, the bills require the revision of U.S. tax code to "include up to $100,000,000 in electric vehicle refueling property bonds(1) that qualified issuers can use to finance the construction of charging infrastructure."

In addition to any federal tax incentives available to consumers, the participating trial communities also will have to provide an additional cash benefit of at least $2,000 to electric car buyers, essentially enough to pay for their home charging unit. Electric vehicle manufacturers will also see the current 200,000 vehicle limit on available consumer tax credits raised to 300,000 vehicles and extended out to the end of 2016.

The Markey-Biggert House version of the bill spells out for the Secretary of Energy the priorities under which the Department will select winning community applications. These include the following:

In addition to the $800 million, additional funds will be allocated for manufacturing, work force training, a study of resource availability and constrain issues, funding to electrify federal fleets, additional monies for electric drive component manufacturing, as well as a study of secondary battery use, and guaranteed loans for their acquisition.

David Friedman with the Union of Concerned Scientists told EV World that these bills put electric vehicles on the "fast track," though he believes that it makes more sense to roll their provisions into a larger energy or climate change bill. He explains that we have to start putting a price on carbon and incentivizing citizens to begin to change their consumption habits by rewarding them for making smarter, greener choices. The funds raised through carbon pricing, whatever that mechanism happens to be, can be used to fund this national electrification roadmap, which he believes is a 10-to-15 year-long effort, ultimately costing $50-100 billion dollars.

He stressed that it's time the United States adopted a National Energy Policy that is not based on "cheap 18th and 19th century fossil fuels." The electrification roadmap spelled out in these bills offers the most efficient use of public monies to speed that process.

(1) EV World proposed this concept to the Coalition in January; the idea being that the bonds would be paid for from the monies kept within the community and not transferred out of the city, state, region and country to pay for imported oil.

Times Article Viewed: 5972
Published: 27-May-2010


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