Sunday, December 03, 2017

Republican tax travesty does limited damage to renewables but more of a problem for EVs

Just one small example of what an undemocratic, corporate lobbyist semi-controlled (i.e. not even the lobbyists really know what's happening) clusterfreak the Senate tax bill is that it's not clear whether it removed the $7,500 tax credit for EVs so that billionaires wouldn't have to pay estate taxes on their "family farms". The Republicans took the worst that the Democrats did in terms of violating procedural norms and then cranked it up to 11, for the worst possible motives and outcomes.

Regarding the revocation of the EV tax credit, the revocation was in the House version, also in the original Senate version, then removed, then added back, and now it's not clear. There's a similar attack on tax benefits for renewable power. No reductions of tax benefits for fossil fuels, of course, let alone consideration of the subsidy fossil fuels get to pollute the air and cause climate change.

Regarding the effect on renewable power, the process for solar and wind becoming cheaper than fossil fuels is so far along that the Republicans can't stop it. EVs are another story - they'll still triumph eventually, but the market is in its infancy yet and crippling the American EV market would really slow things down. California and other blue states will do their best in response, but we need non-idiotic federal policies.

Might seem worthless to point this out now, but here's a quote for Republican Senator Jeff Flake's book, Conscience of a Conservative:

What happens if there is a tax bill which isn't getting any Democratic support, will we stand up and say no, we've got to be bipartisan, we've got to work for it and pick up the necessary votes? Or will we scrap the rules? I will not support any such effort to harm the Senate. It is a line I cannot cross.

Maybe this tax bill can still be stopped, and it could use Senator Flake's help.

As for the broader economic issue of whether tax cuts for the rich make everyone better off, try the lesson from Kansas.


UDATE:  just an interesting related discussion on how fast EVs will take over the market. The anti-EV guy seems to feel incentives and subsidies are somehow unfair and don't count, ignoring how they affect everything besides EVs. I'm sure he would've said the same thing about replacing leaded gas back in the 1970s. His concession that autonomous vehicles change the game is interesting though. I'm presuming the reason is that you maximize usage for autonomous fleets, and the ops and maintenance costs of EVs win out then.

19 comments:

bluegrue said...

This has been traded as the version voted on in Senate
https://www.budget.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/TAX%20SUBSTITUTE.pdf

Part of it are illegible handwritten notes (e.g. page 257)
(see https://twitter.com/SenatorDurbin/status/936738041087037440)
and crossed out sections.

I am sorry for the mess you are in.

Phil Hays said...



Alsaadi: Electric cars are offering an inferior product...

I'd bet he has never driven an EV for a reasonable amount of time. The joy of never needing to stop for gasoline again is decisively superior.

Of course, this is only for a car driven less than the no-worry range every day, and charged at home at night. This limits the potential for such joy to about half the cars on the road. Not for some because charging at an apartment might not be practical, and not for some because of the need for drives longer than current ranges.

Tom said...

It's early days for EVs. They will win--in the medium term. Now it's important to make sure the juice recharging them is clean.

Autonomous vehicle? Not until they have the roads all to themselves.

Passenger carrying drones will be in wide use sooner than autonomous ground vehicles. No silly pedestrians walking their erratic dogs up there...

Suwannee Dave said...

The electric movement is about more than transportation. I have recently purchased an edger, weedeater, and blower that are all battery powered (56 volts). They work fine, and are quieter. Also no problem with gas gumming up the carb.

Johnny Vector said...

SD, you are so right! I just bought a battery powered lawnmower, and it is quieter and lighter. AND! It contains no liquids, so when you're done mowing you just fold the handle over and stand it up in the garage. Takes up 1/4 the floor space. Try doing that with a gas powered mower.

James Lovejoy said...

The tax bill isn't going to do much damage to the EV market. It will hurt the US EV market.

India and China should thank the US Congress for kneecapping their competition.

John Farley said...

The purpose of building autonomous vehicles is to destroy the jobs of truck drivers, cab drivers, and other professional drivers.

They're not ready yet for prime time. A few weeks ago in Las Vegas, they introduced to great fanfare a driverless shuttle between tourist spots. The shuttle had an accident on the very first day of operation.

Fernando Leanme said...

The optimum solution is a plug in hybrid, small, light weight. The small gasoline engine needs to run within a fairly narrow operating range, and the battery pack should have juice for say 50 km before needing recharge.

You really need to get off that EV mania peddling vehicles no sane Mexican or Pakistani will buy. Hybrids as I describe will do nicely over the next 20 years, and all that's needed is to gradually reduce the gasoline engine power as the battery technology evolves.

Phil Hays said...

Fernando is about 5 years late. At high gasoline and battery costs a plug in hybrid is a better solution than either a pure EV or a gasser.

https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Business%20Functions/Sustainability%20and%20Resource%20Productivity/Our%20Insights/Battery%20technology%20charges%20ahead/svgz_Q3_EVbattery_ex1_Rev4.ashx

Note that current battery prices are near $145 per kWh wholesale (off the chart to the left) and gasoline prices in the USA are about $2.48 per US gallon.

Canman said...

The biggest game changer for electric vehicles is probably Fisker's new solid state batteries. He's just filed his patent applications:

https://www.autoblog.com/2017/11/13/fisker-has-filed-patents-for-solid-state-batteries/

Rud Istvan thinks they are Li-Ion capacitors. He holds patents on current state of the art super capacitors:

https://judithcurry.com/2016/11/02/vehicular-decarbonisation-two-new-technologies-to-watch/

Bob Loblaw said...

Oh, great. A "game changer" via Judith Curry.

I think I'll wait for them to make it into a movie.

EliRabett said...

The difference is even greater in Europe, not a small market, with gas being on the order of $8 US/US gallon

Canman said...

When Judith Curry does write an autobiography, I hope she remembers the movie rights. Rud Istvan will probably remind her. He's (among other things) a Harvard trained lawyer.

Fernando Leanme said...

Phil, McKinsey doesnt have the tools to understand technology/económics. I've seen them work closeup, and they are mostly good at PowerPoint. Their problem lies in their lack of skills to solve problems by creating innovative designs (tgey can't even design an organization).

Now that I've trashed that "analysis", we take a fine grained look at the problems posed by EVs used in areas where temperatures are very high in summer time (needs AC, degrades batteries) and very cold winter temperatures (needs heaters, degrades batteries). When we consider the specific needs for such regions, the EV simply doesn't compete. This is why here where I live gasoline is over $4 per gallon and EVs don't sell (if that chart you showed was right the EVs would sell very well).

I'm interested in the reduction in gasoline and diesel consumption, and of course I love clean air. So I keep doodling power train and vehicle combinations to satisfy this particular European market where I live, and I keep falling back on a small lightweight plug in hybrid with a very small, constrained operating range, gasoline engine. The NcKinsey types lack the skills to actually design something, so their costs are garbage. I think that a combination of lower battery costs and maintaining electricity costs low is essential. And that brings another issue: we can't afford to install much more renewables, because the system is optimized to offset intermittency, unless we burn natural gas in turbines that follow the load alongside the hydropower plants.

snarkrates said...

Fernando: "Now that I've trashed that "analysis",..."

Actually, Fernando, you said not a word about the analysis. You merely trashed the authors of it. This is the very definition of the ad hominem fallacy--perhaps now, since you have executed such a beautiful example of it, you can use the term correctly.

Nigel Franks said...

As a European, once again I thank the Republicans for handing a competative advantage to the rest of the world, just like they did with renewables.
I imagine that Fernando has little practical existence with EV's in the european context where most people don't drive more than 20-30 miles a day.
A hybrid is the wrong solution: a cheap EV with say 40 mills range should do the job for most people: That's basically a plug-in hybrid without the hybrid but.

thereoncewasawindmill said...

EVs don't work well in cold climates. EVs make up 32% of new car sales in Norway. Something is wrong.

David B Benson said...

Most Norwegians do not live in a particularly cold climate.

Brian said...

John F - that accident was caused by a person in another vehicle. Autonomous vehicles are at least as safe as people are now, probably safer, and they're going to improve quickly. That's why the legal liability issue is solvable.

David - haven't looked it up but I'll bet 90% of the global population lives in climates no colder than Oslo. Maybe the percent isn't quite as high for annual record cold temps, but occasional inconvenience happens with any transport mode.