A bill recently introduced in the House would create new tax-credit bonds to help state and local governments finance charging stations for plug-in electric cars.
The Electric Drive Vehicle Deployment Act of 2011, introduced by Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Ill., in May, would provide incentives to kick-start electric car growth. The bill would create electric-drive vehicle infrastructure bonds to be issued by state utilities, cooperative electric companies or government issuers.
It would authorize $100 million of the bonds, a spokesperson for Biggert said Monday. The bonds could be issued to comply with building codes for installing additional electric capacity. The bonds could finance both public and private energy-efficiency projects, such as installing charging stations in homes, along highways and in parking garages.
The charging stations are needed to power new plug-in hybrid cars that were introduced late last year by General Motors Co. and Nissan Motors Corp.
The legislation has been referred to the House Committees on Energy and Commerce, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Oversight and Government Reform as well as their subcommittees. Reps. Edward Markey, D-Mass., Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., and Theodore Deutch, D-Fla., are co-sponsoring the bill.
“If we’re ever going to break our addiction to expensive foreign oil, we’re going to have to give a jump-start to sound alternatives,” Biggert said in a statement. The legislation “provides a cost-effective way to mobilize local, federal and private resources, and to keep the U.S. at the forefront of an industry that represents the future of transportation,” she said.
Biggert mentioned a partnership between GM, LG Corp. and researchers at the Argonne National Laboratory that is working to improve the energy efficiency of the Chevy Volt, a hybrid plug-in electric car that can also use gasoline.
GM first started selling the Volt in December and the company expects to produce 7,000 to 10,000 cars within the first year of production, according to Plug In America, a nonprofit based in California that is part of the Electric Auto Association. The Volt can run for 35 miles solely on electric power generated by a lithium battery produced by LG. The Volt differs from the Toyota Motor Corp.’s Prius, which is also a hybrid but is charged with gasoline. The Nissan Leaf was also introduced as an electric plug-in late last year.
The bond provision of the bill allows an issuer “to go out and issue bonds and use that [money] to build public and private infrastructure,” said Jay Friedland, the legislative director at Plug In America. The bond proceeds could fund a charging station at a municipal garage or at a private business, he said.
The bond provision in the bill provides “a local funding mechanism so that those regions can accelerate their deployment” of charging stations, Friedland said.
“We recently were just talking to people over at Facebook who are about to build a new campus [and] are putting in a lot of vehicle charging stations,” he said.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 offered tax credits for individuals who buy plug-in hybrids and pumped billions into the electric car industry. The law offered $2,500 to $7,500 in tax credits based on the hybrid’s battery-energy storage capacity.
The tax credit has been extended through the end of 2011. The stimulus law also provided $2 billion in advanced manufacturing grants to domestic automotive, battery and component manufacturers.
Biggert’s bill would extend through 2016 the tax credit for alternative fuel vehicle-refueling property expenditures. It also would create a competition for states, local governments and Indian tribes to submit proposals for federal funding. The competition would grant $300 million for 10 winning communities to serve as sites for electric vehicle manufacturing and development.