Plug-Ins in Senate Stimulus Obama on PHEVs; Ford; EDTA; Google; USPS
- One day full of news: we've quickly packaged it
all up into one posting. Below is a quick summary
of the status of the plug-in provisions in the
Senate; a proposal for a vastly expanded
commitment to electric postal
vehicles; President Obama's first endorsement of
PHEVs as President; news from Ford; the new
Co-Chairs of the plug-in industry's trade
association, and a new Smart Grid nitiative at Google.
(Shortly after it goes out on email, this posting
will also be viewable at
http://www.calcars.org/news-archive.html -- there
you can add CalCars-News to your RSS feed.)
PLUG-IN PROVISIONS IN SENATE COMPROMISE: Thanks
to Plug In America (which along with all the
groups that it reached out to, generated over
30,000 messages to Congress), for making
available the hard-to-find the 778-page "Senate
Stim Compromise" document, representing the
package credited to Senators Nelson and Collins.
Thanks especially to Senators Cantwell and Hatch
and their staff, who played a key role in making
sure plug-in provisions survived! (And to the
President's staff, who we are told were directly
involved, and the other seven Senators credited
by Sen. Cantwell in her speech before the 80-20
vote on SA274 last Friday -- you can see that now
at http://www.pluginamerica.org and later at
This will be the basis for the Senate vote
tomorrow, after which the Senate bill will go to
a joint House-Senate Conference for negotiation
of the final package. From Pages 473-480 , here's
a very broad non-lawyer's summary of some key items:
* Number of vehicles eligible for up to $7,500
passenger vehicle, $15,000 larger vehicle credit
doubled from 250,000 to 500,000.
* Credits for conversions up to 10% of the cost
with a cap of $40,000 (i.e. a $10,000 conversion
gets $1,000, a $40,000 conversion gets
$4,000--important stake in the ground for what we
hope will be a higher-credit program).
* Conversions must be "qualified," which includes
approval by the National HIghways Transportation
Safety Administration and conversion by mechanics
meeting training standards established in cooperation with battery makers)
* Eligibility of vehicles that use batteries leased to the vehicle owner.
* Two- and three-wheeled highway capable vehicles
eligible (with some complex provisions that may
enable credits for some of Chrysler GEM neighborhood vehicles)
* Incentives start January 1, 2009 or upon the
enactment date (unclear); termination date is end of 2012.
* "Scrappage" provisions dropped (we are making
the case that in many cases it's better to use
that $4,500/vehicle to convert clunkers to PHEV or EV).
POSTAL SERVICE OFFICIAL PROPOSES CONVERTING OVER
200,000 USPS VEHICLES AS PART OF OBAMA PROGRAM:
for the proposal by United States Postal
Regulatory Commissionet Ruth Y. Goldway. (Seeing
idling police cars and school buses, and
stop-and-go postal vehicles was for many of us
the "spark" that started us thinking about cars
that didn't have to idle. And the USPS began an
ill-fated EV experiment in the 1990s whose
problems prevented innovation until now.)
PRESIDENT OBAMA ON PLUG-INS: At President's
Obama's Town Hall today in Ekhart, Indiana, a
city with an unemployment rate over 15% and
center of the RV industry, President Obama evoked
PHEVs in response to an audience question.
Here's how the Detroit Free Press reported the
"Stimulus should spark auto retooling, Obama says" by Justin Hyde
WASHINGTON President Barack Obama said today
the economic stimulus should be used to help the
auto industry retool to compete better against
foreign firms, namely by building more efficient
models such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
At a town hall in Elkhart, Ind., that's part of a
campaign-style push for the bill, Obama said the
economic downturn and the stimulus was an
opportunity to create new jobs in clean energy.
The auto industry, RV industry, transportation
industry is so important to us here in the
Midwest, Obama said. If we don't use this
crisis as an opportunity to start retooling, then
we will never catch up and be able to compete
effectively against Japanese automakers, Korean automakers.
We will find ourselves continuing to slide. This
should be an opportunity for us to retool.
The stimulus compromise in the Senate bill
includes $2 billion in direct grants for battery
development and manufacturing, as well as
expanded tax credits for buyers and manufacturers
of plug-in hybrid vehicles. It also includes a
tax break for new-car buyers and money for the
federal government to buy plug-in hybrids and flex-fuel vehicles.
The bill does not include a proposal by Michigan
lawmakers to double the $25 billion in loans for
retooling plants to build more efficient models.
Obama has long maintained that Detroit automakers
could not compete in the global economy unless
they built more environmentally friendly models.
As part of their cost-cutting plans due Feb. 17
under the $17.4-billion loan agreements, General
Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC have to explain how
they will meet future fuel economy standards.
The Senate is expected to move ahead on its
$827-billion stimulus bill tonight, but its
version must be reconciled with a larger version that passed the House.
FULL TEXTS: At
here's the text of the two answers on green topics:
Q Thank you, President Obama. It's -- like
everybody has said, it's an honor to be here. I'm
-- my name is Jason Ward [phonetic] and I'm a
local attorney here in town, but I've seen a lot
of the effects that the manufacturing industry
has had here. And there's been a lot of
discussion with respect to green jobs and environmental issues --
THE PRESIDENT: Right.
Q -- and this area has been one of the areas
that's been mentioned about maybe retooling to
take advantage of the green revolution. And I
guess the question is, with respect to the
stimulus bill, are there provisions in there that
address green job issues, improvement of
environmental issues, and those type of matters?
THE PRESIDENT: Absolutely. It's a great question,
and let me describe for you just some of the
things that we have in there. Under this plan, we
would double the production of alternative energy
-- double it from where it is right now. So
that's point number one. (Applause.)
Point number two -- point number two, there is
money allocated in this plan to develop the new
battery technologies that will allow not just
cars but potentially RVs as well to be -- to move
into the next generation of plug-in hybrids that
get much better gas mileage, that will wean
ourselves off dependence on Middle Eastern oil,
and will improve our environment and lessen the
potential effects of greenhouse gases and climate change.
We also have put in money that provide for the
weatherization of millions of homes across the
country. Now, this is an example of where you get
a multiplier effect. If you allocate money to
weatherize homes, the homeowner gets the benefit
of lower energy bills. You right away put people
back to work, many of whom in the construction
industry and in the housing industry are out of
work right now -- they are immediately put to
work doing something. You can train young people
as apprentices to start getting training at -- in
home construction through weatherization. And you
start reducing energy costs for the nation as a
whole. So there are billions of dollars in this
plan allocated for moving us towards a new energy future.
Now, I'll be honest with you, some of the critics
of the plan have said that's pork. I don't
understand their criticism. Their basic argument
is, well, that's -- you're trying to make policy
instead of just doing short-term stimulus. Well,
my whole attitude is, if we're going to spend
billions of dollars that creates jobs anyway,
then why wouldn't we want to create jobs in
things like clean energy that create a better
economic future for us over the long term? That's
just -- that's common sense to me. That's common sense to me. (Applause.)
And that is especially important for the Midwest,
because if you think about it, the auto industry,
RV industry, transportation industry is so
important to us here in the Midwest. If we don't
use this crisis as an opportunity to start
retooling, then we will never catch up and be
able to compete effectively against Japanese
automakers, Korean automakers, and we will find
ourselves continuing to slide. This should be an opportunity for us to retool.
And so I am going to make this a big priority
over the next few days as we're trying to
reconcile the House and the Senate bill, getting
folks in Congress to understand that this is one
of the best possible investments that we can make.
THE PRESIDENT [answering a long question]: Good.
Well, let me -- three things that we can do, just
very specific and we can do them quickly, and
then there's a fourth thing that we can do that
will take a little bit more time.
Number one is that we need to pass a renewable
energy standard. (Applause.) And what that does
is, just as for people who aren't sort of experts
in the field, it's pretty simple. What it says is
-- to the various utilities, it says, you need to
get 15 percent or 20 percent of your energy from
renewable sources. And once you set that
benchmark, then what happens is, is that people
who are producing renewable energy -- solar or
wind or hydrothermal -- what they're able to do
then is count on a pretty solid market that
they're going to be able to sell their energy to.
And that means investors, then, will say, you
know what, this is actually a pretty good thing
for us to invest in. And over time what that
means is, is that more and more people invest in
renewable energy, which means that technology
gets better, the research and development
improves, and you start growing that sector. So a
renewable energy standard is very important. That's point number one.
Point number two is we should be providing tax
credits and loan guarantees to renewable energy.
There are some in place currently that have --
are on the verge of lapsing, and we have to act
much more forcefully in terms of making sure that
those are in place. That's the second thing.
The third thing that we should be doing is
working with utilities all across America,
including here in Indiana, to do what some
utilities are already doing in California. And
this is a really smart thing. What they do is,
the utility is able to make money not just on how
much energy it sells, but it's also able to make
money on how much energy its customers save.
So you can structure how they charge your
electricity bill so that if you started
installing a solar panel, that you would
actually, as you point out, be able to sell some
of that energy back when you're not using it. You
get to put some money in your pocket, and the
utilities are rewarded for encouraging you to do
that. Right now they don't have enough incentive
to do it because they're making money the more
energy you use, whereas what we want to do is
make -- give them incentives so that they are
constantly telling you how you can save energy.
The fourth thing -- and this is the thing that's
going to take a little bit longer -- is we've got
to improve basic science, research and
development. When it comes to solar, when it
comes to wind, the price has gone down, but
generally speaking it's still a little more
expensive than fossil fuels: coal, natural gas,
and so forth. So we've got to improve the
technology, and that's why I want to make sure
that we're investing some money every year in the
development of new energy technologies that will
drive those costs down over the long term.
The country that figures out how to make cheaper
energy that's also clean, that country is going
to win the economic competition of the future.
(Applause.) And I want that to be the United
States of America. That's one of my commitments
as President of the United States. (Applause.)
FORD COMMITS TO PHEV IN 2012: Ford has made
official what it's stated as a goal in the past.
While it has been slowly producing small numbers
of Ford Escape PHEVs, it has been vague about its
future plans. Today, at
as part of its announcement that it will sell an
all EV light commercial vehicle, the "Transit
Connect," in 2010, in partnership with European
company Smith Electric Vehicles, the company said
it will "Introduce in North America:
* Next-generation hybrid vehicles in 2012
* Plug-in hybrid versions in 2012s
NEWS FROM EDTA: From the press release at
is the news that the Electric Drive
Transportation Association, the trade
association accelerating battery, hybrid,
plug-in, and fuel cell electric drive
technologies and infrastructure, has announced
the election of General Motors Tony Posawatz,
Vehicle Line Director for the Chevy Volt, as
Co-Chairman of the Board. He replaces Edward B.
Cohen, Vice President of Government and Industry
Relations for American Honda Motor Company, who
has served as Co-Chairman since early 2004. Mr.
Cohen remains on the EDTA Board. Mr. Posawatz
will serve alongside Co-Chairman John Bryson,
Retired Chairman & CEO, Southern California
Edison, and Senior Advisor for Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
In a year when it's critical to have the most
able advocates for plug-in cars in operating in
Washington, nationally and globally, this is
welcome news. Posawatz has been very open to
meetings and discussions with the broad range of
plug-in advocates (see photo at
And Bryson has a deep understanding of the potential of plug-in vehicles.
GOOGLE EXPANDS TO SMART HOME INFORMATION PROGRAM:
Here's news of a new iniative from Google: a free
web service called PowerMeter enabling consumers
to track their home and business energy use. The
explains how it ties in with Smart Meter projects
and PHEVs, and quotes Kirsten Olsen Cahill, who
as former team leader for RechargeIT, helped
launch that PHEV program (Google.org's first
domestically-focused initiative). Watch for more news on this initaitive.
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Felix Kramer fkramer@...
Founder California Cars Initiative
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