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Senators Hatch, Cantwell, Obama: PHEV Plan for Energy Bill
Jun 17, 2007 (From the CalCars-News archive)
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Last week and this week on the floor of the Senate is a complex and, of course, controversial, new Energy Bill. Now Senate Fiannce Committee Members Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), along with Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) have introduced the "Freedom Act" to provide tax credits to consumers, manufacturers and utilities to encourage commercialization of PHEVs. This package, which will be reviewed at the Finance Committee markup Tuesday, is an expanded and improved version of the credits in the bipartisan, bicameral DRIVE Act.

These provisions are in various stages of consideration and acceptance by Committee Members and Chairman Max Baucus. The list of Committtee Members is at http://www.senate.gov/­~finance/­sitepages/­committee.htm.) PHEV advocates in Washington are working to get these provisions improved and included! (We thank SetAmericaFree.org's Anne Korin for the background for this report. After the Finance Committe markup on Tuesday, it will be offered as an amendment to the Energy Bill.

In addition, both amendments by DRIVE Act cosponsors offered so far to the Energy Bill have been accepted.

  • Title I of DRIVE, the oil savings targets and federal agency action plan, passed 63-30 (as SA 1508, Bayh, Brownback, Lieberman, Coleman, Salazar, Lincoln, Cantwell, Kerry, Dodd, Kohl, Reed, Collins, Nelson).
  • The PHEV and other electricity for transportation sections of DRIVE passed in a voice vote (SA 1572, Salazar, Bayh, Brownback, Lieberman, Coleman, Cantwell, Lincoln, Clinton, Biden, Klobuchar, Durbin). There's much more to do, but all these are good steps . One good place to track Energy Bill Amendments is Green Car Congress. GCC's third version of its roundup of amendments to the Senate Energy Bill is at http://www.greencarcongress.com/­2007/­06/­update_on_the_u_2.html.

  • Below we're reproducing the statement by the Electric Drive Transportation Association, followed by the Senators' press release.

    http://www.electricdrive.org/­index.php?tg=entry&idx=more&article=1516&idg=2

    June 14, 2007--Washington, DC-The Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA) is pleased to announce its support for the FREEDOM Act, which will accelerate the development and deployment of plug-in electric drive vehicles. Introduced today by Senators Hatch, Cantwell, and Obama, the bill will help to commercialize all plug-in electric drive vehicles - battery, hybrid, and fuel cell - and support expanded U.S. manufacturing capacity for advanced vehicles and components.

    EDTA is the multi-industry trade association promoting battery, hybrid and fuel cell electric drive technologies and infrastructure. Its membership includes automotive and other equipment manufacturers, utility companies, technology developers, component suppliers, and government agencies.

    The FREEDOM Act aims to increase U.S. manufacturing capacity for advanced vehicles and components, help consumers purchase these advanced vehicles, and support the efforts of utilities to expand plug-in electric drive vehicle ownership. Together, these incentives will help the United States to address the challenges of oil dependence and climate change.

    "Senator Hatch's leadership and vision for advanced transportation has been critical to the growth and expansion of electric drive technology," says EDTA President Brian Wynne. "The FREEDOM Act's comprehensive approach to the electrification of transportation will result in real reductions in oil consumption and greenhouse gases and real increases in energy security and environmental quality. Senator Cantwell and Senator Obama have demonstrated their commitment to transforming transportation through their co-sponsorship of this bill."

    See a version of the announcement by Senator Hatch at http://hatch.senate.gov/­index.cfm?FuseAction=PressReleases.Detail&PressRelease_id=1827; below is the press release by Senator Cantwell http://cantwell.senate.gov/­news/­record.cfm?id=277029.

    Cantwell, Hatch, Obama Introduce Legislation to Promote Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles Current electricity grid, instead of gasoline, could power most vehicles on U.S. roads, according to PNNL study Thursday, June 14, 2007

    WASHINGTON, DC - Thursday, Senate Finance Committee members Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), along with Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), introduced a bill to help develop commercially viable plug-in hybrids and other electric-drive vehicles. Plug-in vehicles have the potential to shift America off of its dependence on fossil fuels, and onto to cleaner, cheaper alternatives for transportation. The senators highlighted the goals of the bill with a press conference today featuring two plug-in hybrids which can get more than 100 miles per gallon in the city.

    "Our transportation system in this country is out of date," said Cantwell. "We need to take advantage of new technologies to bring our cars and trucks up to speed, save consumers money, and diversify our country off of fossil fuels. We produce enough extra electricity right now to power most of the cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs on our roads. It's time we made plug-in hybrid technology available to more Americans."

    "With the rapid industrialization of countries like India and China, the demand for gasoline is unprecedented, and that's translated into higher costs at the pump," Hatch said. "We're already feeling the pain of that, and it'll get worse unless we start shifting our transportation sector away from liquid fuels and on to electrons. The best way to motivate that shift is with these market-based incentives, rather than Federal mandates."

    "Developing environmentally friendly fuel alternatives for vehicles is a critical step we can take to reduce America's consumption of foreign oil and combat global climate change," Obama said. "The technology to produce energy alternatives exists, and we must provide the appropriate incentives to encourage consumer and manufacturer use. Supporting energy efficient technology and electric vehicles would also help the American auto industry regain its competitive edge."

    According to a January study by Tri Cities-based Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), the U.S. electricity grid is underutilized most of the time, and, with the proper plan in place, could deliver enough power to fuel most of the country's cars and light trucks, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions and curbing our reliance on foreign oil. Batteries on plug-in hybrids, the vehicle type examined in the PNNL study, are typically charged at night when overall electricity consumption is minimal. Charging a plug-in hybrid at the current national average residential rate of 9 cents per kilowatt amounts to a cost equivalent to $1 per gallon of gas.

    Their legislation introduced Thursday is a three-pronged strategy promoting Plug-in Electric Drive Vehicles (PEDVs), which includes pure battery electric, extended range electric, plug-in hybrid electric, and plug-in fuel cell vehicles.

    First, their proposal would provide significant tax credits to consumers who purchase PEDVs. Credits would provide up to $7,500 for small to mid-sized cars and trucks, up to $10,000 for mid to larger cars and trucks, and up to $15,000 for big cars and trucks. Credits would also cover 50 percent of the cost of converting a vehicle, up to $2,000.

    Second, their proposal would provide tax incentives for the U.S. production of PEDVs and PEDV dedicated parts. Through 2012, American automakers, battery manufacturers, and component makers could expense 100 percent of their retooling costs. From 2013 to 2015, this incentive would decrease to from 100 percent to 50 percent.

    Third, the proposal would give incentives for electric utilities to provide rebates to customers who purchase PEDVs. These incentives would be scaled in a manner that would provide the largest incentives to utilities producing the greenest energy.

    First, their proposal would provide significant tax credits to consumers who purchase PEDVs. The provision will be patterned after the CLEAR ACT, sponsored and passed by Hatch as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which is currently providing financial incentives for consumers to purchase alternative fuel and hybrid electric vehicles.

    Second, their proposal would provide tax incentives for the U.S. production of PEDVs and PEDV dedicated parts.

    Third, the proposal would give incentives for electric utilities to provide rebates to customers who purchase PEDVs. These incentives would be scaled in a manner that would provide the largest incentives to utilities producing the greenest energy.

    The Senators are still finalizing various aspects of the legislation, which they expect to introduce soon.

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