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Plug-Ins in Senate Stimulus Obama on PHEVs; Ford; EDTA; Google; USPS

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  • Felix Kramer
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 9, 2009
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      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.)

      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
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErVjLQPGHTQ .)
      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).

      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.)

      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
      story at
      "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
      http://www.calcars.org/photos-groups.html and
      discussion at
      http://www.calcars.org/calcars-news/984.html .
      And Bryson has a deep understanding of the potential of plug-in vehicles.

      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
      story at
      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.

      -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
      Felix Kramer fkramer@...
      Founder California Cars Initiative
      -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
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