Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Sprout at Plug-in 2010
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Senate Energy Bill Contains $3.8B for Natural Gas Vehicle Conversion and Purchasing, $400M for Plug-in Vehicle Deployment

On Tuesday, US Senate Majority leader Harry Reid released the “Clean Energy Jobs 5 and Oil Company Accountability Act of 2010”—the latest version of the energy bill to emerge from the Senate. Division B of the bill outlines two major transportation-related initiatives to reduce oil consumption and enhance energy security, including up to $3.8 billion in rebates to buyers of natural gas-powered vehicles, from light- to heavy-duty; and $400 million to support the deployment of plug-in vehicles in targeted communities.

The addition of the electric vehicle provisions was a last-minute achievement, noted Ron Minsk from the Electrification Coalition during his talk at Plug-in 2010. Heading into the weekend, the bill only dealt with oil spills, natural gas vehicles, Home Star and land and water.

Natural Gas Vehicles (Division B, Title XX). The bill establishes within the Department of Energy a Natural Gas Vehicle and Infrastructure Development Program for the purpose of facilitating the use of natural gas in the United States as an alternative transportation fuel, in order to achieve the maximum feasible reduction in domestic oil use.

The program will establish a $3.8-billion rebate program for qualified owners who convert or repower a conventionally fueled vehicle to operate on compressed natural gas or liquefied natural gas, or to a mixed-fuel vehicle or a bi-fuel vehicle.

The rebates are primarily targeted at medium- and heavy-duty vehicles; of the funding allocated for rebates, not more than 25% is to be used to provide rebates to qualified owners for the purchase of qualified alternative fuel vehicles that have a gross vehicle rating of not more than 8,500 pounds.

In general, rebates will offset 90% of the incremental cost of a qualified alternative fuel vehicle to a qualified owner for the purchase of a 15 qualified alternative fuel vehicles. Maximum values are determined by vehicle weight:

  • ≤ 8,500 lbs, $8,000
  • 8,501 - 14,000 lbs, $16,000
  • 14,001 - 26,000 lbs, $40,000
  • > 26,000 lbs, $64,000

Mixed-fuel vehicles receive a rebate of up to 75% of the amount provided for vehicles that operate only under natural gas; bi-fuel vehicles receive 50% of the amount for pure NGVs.

The bill also provides funding to establish fueling infrastructure, and a loan program for domestic manufacturing.

Plug-in vehicles. (Division B, Title XXI) The bill establishes with the Department of Energy a national plug-in electric drive vehicle deployment program to assist in the deployment of plug-in electric drive vehicles. Specified goals of the national program include:

  1. the reduction and displacement of petroleum use by accelerating the deployment of plug-in electric drive vehicles in the United States;
  2. the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by accelerating the deployment of plug-in electric drive vehicles in the United States;
  3. the facilitation of the rapid deployment of plug-in electric drive vehicles;
  4. the achievement of significant market penetrations by plug-in electric drive vehicles nationally;
  5. the establishment of models for the rapid deployment of plug-in electric drive vehicles nationally, including models for the deployment of residential, private, and publicly available charging infrastructure;
  6. the increase of consumer knowledge and acceptance of plug-in electric drive vehicles;
  7. the encouragement of the innovation and investment necessary to achieve mass market deployment of plug-in electric drive vehicles;
  8. the facilitation of the integration of plug-in electric drive vehicles into electricity distribution systems and the larger electric grid while maintaining grid system performance and reliability;
  9. the provision of technical assistance to communities across the United States to prepare for plug-in electric drive vehicles; and
  10. the support of workforce training across the United States relating to plug-in electric drive vehicles.

Eighteen months after the enactment of the Act, and biennially thereafter, DOE is to submit to Congress a report on the progress made on implementing the program. DOE is also to make information regarding cost, performance, usage data, and technical data regarding plug-in electric drive vehicles and associated infrastructure available to the public.

Two years after the enactment of the Act, DOE is to carry out a national assessment and develop a national plan for plug-in electric drive deployment that includes:

  1. An assessment of the maximum feasible deployment of plug-in electric drive vehicles by 2020 and 2030;
  2. The establishment of national goals for market penetration of plug-in electric drive vehicles by 2020 and 2030;
  3. A plan for integrating the successes and barriers to deployment identified by deployment communities;
  4. A plan for providing technical assistance to communities across the US to prepare for plug-in electric drive vehicle deployment;
  5. A plan for quantifying the reduction in petroleum consumption and the net impact on greenhouse gas emissions due to the deployment of the plug-ins; and
  6. Recommendations to the President and Congress for changes in federal programs to better promote the deployment of and reduce the barriers to plug-ins.

The bill requires DOE to provide technical assistance to State, local and tribal governments to assist with the national deployment of plug-in electric drive vehicles. The technical assistance to be provided will include: training codes and standards for building and safety inspectors; ideas on how to expedite permits and inspections; and education and outreach on the various types of plug-in electric drive vehicles and the associated technology. It also provides grants for training first responders, electricians, contractors, and engineers who will be installing infrastructure, code inspection officials, dealers, mechanics, and others. Provides grants for programs in designing plug-in electric drive motor vehicles and associated components and infrastructure.

The bill directs the federal government to count electricity used to refuel a plug-in electric drive motor vehicle as an alternative fuel. Also, it directs the Federal Energy Management Program and the General Services Administration to compile a report on how many plug-in electric drive vehicles could be deployed in federal fleets based on needed functionality and costs.

Federal agencies are to request funding for these vehicles in their annual budget requests. Finally, it directs the Administrator of the General Services Administration to acquire and deploy plug-in electric drive vehicles to be used in a pilot program in federal fleets and authorizes funds to cover incremental costs.

The bill also creates a target Electric Drive Vehicle Deployment Communities Program—at least 5 and not more than 15 deployment communities that reflect diverse populations, geography, and a model for deploying electric drive motor vehicles. At least one deployment community will have population of less than 125,000. This is funded with the $400 million.

Other provisions include:

  • Establishing an R&D program in DOE to work on all aspects of the development, production, and deployment of electric vehicles. This section also establishes a research, development, and demonstration program in the Department of Energy to identify and assess possible uses for vehicle batteries at the end of their useful life in a vehicle. It provides grants for selected demonstration projects and directs the Secretary of Energy to carry out a study on recycling materials from electric vehicles and batteries.

  • Establishing a competition for the development of a 500-mile vehicle battery.

  • Conduct a study identifying the raw materials needed to manufacture plug-in electric vehicles, batteries, and other components, to describe the known sources of these materials and the risk associated with their supply, and to identify ways to secure the supply chain of critical raw materials.

  • Entering into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study to identify what data that may be collected from electric vehicles, such as location, charging patterns and usage of electric vehicles. This study will be used to provide recommendations on procedures, technologies, and rules relating to the collection, storage and use of this data.

  • Requiring electric utilities to consider the potential levels of plug-in penetration that they might expect to see on their systems in the near term, investigate the potential impacts on their transmission and distribution infrastructure, and plan for the deployment of electric vehicles in their service area.

  • Providing loan guarantees for eligible entities that purchase more than 200 qualified automotive batteries in a calendar year for use in nonautomotive applications. This program will help attract battery manufacturing facilities to the US while plug-in electric drive vehicle production is still ramping up.

  • Establishing a technical advisory committee to advise the Secretary of Energy on matters relating to plug-in electric drive vehicles. The committee is to coordinate with the Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Technical Advisory Committee and the Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee. The bill also establishes an Interagency Task Force, chaired by the Secretary of Energy, to coordinate federal actions related to plug-in electric drive vehicles and infrastructure.




Lots of good ideas, if we can get trucks and buses on CNG and FFVs on M85, we will go a long way towards reducing the power of OPEC and taking control of our future.


Great move and long overdue. The US just recently became self sufficient in NG; ie production equals or exceeds demand. Some gas is imported from Canada by pipeline. We have few or no tanker trucks on the road carrying NG. To my knowledge, there are no US ocean port facilities for CNG. Since no new vehicle technology is needed, a 10% market share for CNG fueled vehicles in 5 years is a realistic goal. If it were achieved, its impact on the oil marketplace would be considerable.


The U.S. has natural gas reserves comparable to Russia. If shale gas is done responsibly and we have energy efficient methods of use, we can go far on CNG.


Looks like T. Boone Pickens has helped get someone's attention.

I'm not a fan of day-charging batteries, but I'd rather build a coal plant to charge batteries than pay Venezuela a penny more for oil.


From the PickensPlan site:

"If we're going to convert these big trucks into natural gas, there needs to be some big kick in the rear to get it done; it can't be done in the private sector alone, and this is something that we need to take a look at."

— Senator Harry Reid


You're all focusing on the positives of this bill but what about what got cut from it? Yes, you're going to use more NG for transportation as per the Pickens Plan but what about the other part of the Pickens Plan - the renewable energy part?


This is a good idea for USA but the relatively small fund will run out withing a few months. Secondly, USA would run out of NG within a few years if more ICE fuel guzzlers are built. NG price would quickly rise as supply and reserves go down. Home and hot water heating cost would also rise.

It is also amusing to note how light crude oil from Venezuela and Saudi Arabia etc was welcomed when is was given away at $3/barrel or less just a few years ago and how it has become so devilish when price went up to a mere $147/barrel and settled down to a low $80/barrel. Too bad we did not have the same reaction when car price went up 100 times from $450 to $45,000. Angels can become devils rather fast.


We have plenty of natural gas and even more now that they know how to develop shale gas. If all the big rig trucks ran on CNG, it would not raise the use of natural gas much. We use more BTUs of natural gas than diesel in the U.S. now.


Anybody see the film "Gasland" by Josh Fox?

And about running out of NG: You can extend supplies by 3 ways.
1) Use the other part of the Pickens Plan - the renewable energy part - to reduce the amount you burn in power plants for electricity and at home for heat.
2) Mix in amounts of biogas. Both NG and biogas are mainly methane so only you've got a car that runs on it it wont care where it comes from. And its a lot easier to turn biomass into biogas than any liquid fuel.
3) PHEVs and EREVs. The Chevy Volt thread pointed out some of the problems of letting gasoline sit in your car unused. NG doesn't have those problems.


They discovered more than enough shale gas reserves to run all the big rigs for decades. They have to do it the right way and not pollute ground water, but this can be done.


U.S. Nonassociated Natural Gas, Wet After Lease Separation, Proved Reserves (Billion Cubic Feet)
2000 156,677 2001 161,921 2002 166,020 2003 168,593
2004 173,551 2005 185,072 2006 190,776 2007 215,121
2008 226,012


You see increase proven reserves in one category year after year. This is in billions of cubic feet. One billion cubic feet is 10 million therms. One therm is 100,000 BTU. You do the math on how many gallons equivalent of diesel for big rigs.



USA consumes (daily):

1) 13 million barrels or about 546 million gallons of gasoline and diesel. That is about 71 Bcf NG equivalent

2) 63 Bcf of NG

If all ICE vehicles were converted to NG, daily NG consumption would be about (71 Bcf + 63 Bcf) = 134 Bcf/day.

A 226,000 Bcf reserve would last about 1686 days or 4.6 years ONLY.

Of course you could not convert all vehicles over night. NG reserves would last a few more years. On the other hand, the NG fleet would grow at 2% to 3% rate per year. Normal NG consumption also goes up at up to 5% per year.

NG vehicles may not be the ultimate solution.


You are mixing things, I am referring to CNG for big rig diesel trucks. We have more than 20 years of natural gas at present consumption and as you can see they find more every year. 1 million big rigs converted to CNG might raise NG consumption 10%, I think we can do that.



I agree that NG reserves would last longer (2x ?) for partial liquid fuel to NG (or CNG) conversion.

However, current NG reserves (without vehicle usage) are only good for (226,000/63) = 3586 days or 9.8 year without any (other) consumption increase.

That is not as much as a lot of people think. USA could be importing NG a lot sooner than expected.


Reserves are increasing every year, that is not so with oil in the U.S. That is not because we use less every year, in fact we use more. The U.S. oil reserves are about 9 years but that does not mean we will run out of oil in 9 years.


If you look at all categories, we have more than 30 years of natural gas reserves at present consumption.



SJC: I stand corrected. A combination of more NG reserves estimates seems to average about 47 years. It is still a rather short time. Using more diversified energy sources may extend NG reserves by 2x?

By 2060 the world population could be as high as 8.5B and energy consumption may may doubled and more due to fast changes in Asia, South America, Russia, Eastern Europe and possibly part of Africa.

USA + Canada population could go from 443 M to over 500 M and we are highly energy addicted.


So we could run 1 million big rigs on CNG and use about 10% more NG. That would be better than importing almost 1 billion barrels of oil from OPEC every year.


A good point SJC. It would certainly reduce crude oil imports and GHG.


If is nice to be green but nicer to profit from doing the right thing. Some one has to convert all of those vehicles.

Fuel systems (FSYS)

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