California residents may soon be shelling out more taxpayer money to help prop up the state’s electric vehicle industry.
As Congress debates whether or not to increase federal subsidies for electric cars, California officials say they are ready to “make up” the difference if they don’t. Currently, the state offers $2,500 for every pure electric vehicle (EV) sold in the state. The California Air and Resources Board will hold hearings on Thursday and Friday to decide on possibly increasing this rate to $4,500 if Washington, D.C., does not lift their own caps.
The federal government offers tax credits up to $7,500 to electric vehicle buyers. However, this credit caps off at 200,000 cars sold per manufacturer. Tesla has already surpassed this threshold and GM is not far off. Some lawmakers and EV supporters have proposed raising the limit to keep incentivizing people to buy the green — but very expensive — cars.
Mary Nichols, the chair of California’s Air Resources Board, is hopeful federal lawmakers will raise the threshold, but she said “we would be having to look at another way to make up for that” if they don’t.
Consideration of more EV subsidies comes as California continues to adopt more environmentally measures. Outgoing Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation earlier in September that mandates the state’s generation industry produce 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045. The California Energy Commission voted in May to require every new house in the state to include solar panel installation, despite the expected increase in cost for prospective home buyers.
California officials are also in a heated battle with the Trump administration over its authority to regulate emissions standards. The White House is mulling whether to freeze fuel efficiency standards at 37 miles per gallon in 2020 — in lieu of raising the standards to 47 mpg by 2025, as was previously established during the Obama administration. Under the Clean Air Act, California is able to set their own, more strict emissions standards. The Trump administration is looking to rescind this authority. (RELATED: The Real Reason California’s Biggest Utility Opposes Trump’s Agenda? Money)
“At the end of the day, California officials looked at the data, came to a different conclusion than Trump, and are proceeding with the authority they already have under the Clean Air Act,” stated Don Anair, the research director for clean cars at the Union of Concerned Scientists, according to Bloomberg.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), the state’s largest electric utility, has been a vocal supporter of raising electric vehicle subsidies, indicating that they plan to spend hundreds of million on EV infrastructure and want to see satisfactory returns on its investments. Ratepayer-funded charging stations serve as a new source of revenue for utility companies.
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