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Association focuses on electric vehicle charging legislation

With public power utilities uniquely positioned to facilitate the deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the communities they serve, the American Public Power Association is backing legislation that would allow public power utilities to receive federal grants to install EV charging stations.

The focus of the Association’s advocacy on Capitol Hill is ensuring that members can play a role in the deployment of EV charging infrastructure, whether they do it themselves or work with third parties to do so, noted Desmarie Waterhouse, Vice President of Government Relations and Counsel at the Association.

There is strong Association member interest in EVs and the public power community is ready to roll up its sleeves and play its part in the electrification of the transportation sector, she said.

“In any discussions I have on climate change, I note our members’ EV-related activities and how those efforts will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the transportation sector, which is the number one emitter of CO2,” Waterhouse said.

EV charging legislation

In late July, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted to approve a five-year highway reauthorization bill that largely incorporated provisions of the Clean Corridors Act of 2019 (S. 674) that was introduced by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. Companion legislation (H.R. 2616) has been introduced in the House by Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Calif.

The legislation would provide grant funding for the installation of EV charging stations and hydrogen fueling infrastructure along designated corridors across the National Highway System.

The Association, which worked closely with Carper on the Clean Corridors Act, supports the bill because it would allow public power utilities to receive federal grants to install EV charging stations adjacent to established routes.

Meanwhile, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is expected release its own legislation sometime in 2020. Committee Chairman Pete DeFazio, D-Ore., has voiced support for EVs and EV infrastructure during committee hearings on infrastructure.

At a hearing earlier this year on infrastructure investment, DeFazio said that the U.S. should “take steps to increase the use of electric vehicles, build an electric backbone for our highway system to move people and goods, and invest in resilient infrastructure, to respond to climate change.”

Other EV-related legislation has been introduced in the 116th Congress

Several other bills intended to further encourage EV infrastructure and purchase investments have been introduced in the 116th Congress.

Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vermont, and Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., introduced the Electric CARS Act of 2019 (H.R. 2042/S. 993) to extend the refueling property tax credit through 2028.

House Ways and Means Committee member Dan Kildee, D-Mich., and Senate Finance Committee member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., introduced the Driving America Forward Act (H.R. 2256/S. 1094), which would allow an additional 400,000 vehicles per manufacturer to be eligible for a credit of up to $7,000 before the credit begins to phase out.

The House Ways Means Committee approved H.R. 3301, the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Relief Act, which would extend the refueling property tax credit through December 2020.

Comparable legislation extending the refueling property tax credit through December 2019 (S. 617, the Tax Extenders and Disaster Relief Act) has been introduced in the Senate by Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa and Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., but has not been acted on by the committee.

Association offers EV resources to members

The Association offers a wide range of EV-related resources to its members.

Those resources include a public power utilities EV tracker and “Creating an Electric Vehicle Blueprint for Your Community: Public Power Strategies,” a guide that walks public power utility leaders and staff through the steps in creating a strategy, planning, and executing an electric vehicle program in their community.

These and other resources are available on the Association’s website topic page for electric vehicles.

Another EV tool available for Association members is the Demonstration of Energy & Efficiency Development program, which funds research, pilot projects, and education on topics such as electric vehicles.

One example of how DEED funding is being used in the EV space is a project involving American Municipal Power and the Smart Electric Power Alliance.

AMP and SEPA have teamed up to develop an electric vehicle toolkit that contains a spreadsheet and user instructions and provides a preliminary read on the time and resources that utilities may need to dedicate to planning and rolling out a strategy for EV adoption.

The project was funded in part by a grant from the DEED program.

The toolkit is available for free download to DEED members and for sale to non-DEED members in the Association’s Product Store.

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