Archive for July 1st, 2009

By-the-mile road tax

July 1, 2009

From the Kansas City Star:

The year is 2020 and the gasoline tax is history. In its place you get a monthly tax bill based on each mile you drove — tracked by a Global Positioning System device in your car and uploaded to a billing center…

The idea of shifting to a by-the-mile tax has been discussed for years, but it now appears to be getting more serious attention. A federal commission, after a two-year study, concluded earlier this year that the road tax was the “best path forward” to keep revenues flowing to highway and transportation projects, and could be an important new tool to help manage traffic and relieve congestion.

The decision by the 15-member National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission was unanimous, which surprised Robert Atkinson, the group’s chairman. But he said it became clear as the commission’s work progressed that a road tax on miles traveled was the best option.

“If you’re committed to the system being improved then it was a no-brainer,” he said.

A “no-brainer” indeed… 🙂

Waxman-Markey lays groundwork for electric vehicle mandate

July 1, 2009

The Waxman-Markey climate bill prepares America for an electric vehicle mandate.

Sec. 121 of the bill mandates that electric utilities develop plans…

… to support the use of plug-in electric drive vehicles, including heavy-duty hybrid electric vehicles.

“Support the use” means providing for the…

… deployment of electrical charging stations in public or private locations, including street parking, parking garages, parking lots, homes, gas stations, and highway rest stops.

The plans may also require…

… (i) battery exchange, fast charging infrastructure and other services; (ii) triggers for infrastructure deployment based upon market penetration of plug-in electric drive vehicles; and (iii) such other elements as the State determines necessary to support plug-in electric drive vehicles.

Who will pay for this? Waxman-Markey says that,

Each State regulatory authority (in the case of each electric utility for which it has ratemaking authority) and each utility (in the case of a nonregulated utility) shall consider whether, and to what extent, to allow cost recovery for plans and implementation of plans.

So state regulators and utilities will get to decide whether to pass the costs on to consumers as increased electricity prices or whether to directly stick property and business owners with the costs. To the extent tax credits/deductions are available, taxpayers will pick up the tab.

How much will this cost? How much money do you have?

While Coulomb Technologies’ sells its “Smartlet” for between $1,000-$2,000 per charging station, Toyota’s unit costs $4,600, Edison EV’s cost $5,000-$10,000 (indoor units) and $15,000-$20,000 (outdoor units), and solar-power stations cost as much as $85,000 for a six-station unit.

In addition to up-front unit costs, installation and maintenance add to the price and, perhaps most importantly, there’s the time-is-money factor. A full charge from a 120-volt outlet could take 10-12 hours. A full charge from a 240-volt outlet would take about half that time. Contrast that with the 5 minutes or so it takes to pump 20 gallons into an SUV. Not very convenient. Battery exchange? Who is going to want to schlep heavy batteries around at a filling station?

Without the Waxman-Markey mandate, it’s not likely that too much electric vehicle infrastructure would be installed. According to Diane Wittenberg, the president of Edison EV, a subsidiary of Edison International (NYSE: EIX):

“There’s no real financial incentive for anyone to operate a charging station at this point… There’s just no way you could sell someone into doing a recharging station (for profit).”

Your driving future courtesy of Waxman-Markey... woman not included.

Your driving future courtesy of Waxman-Markey... woman not included.