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Bipartisan bill to extend US tax credits for EV charging, hydrogen refueling stations

25 March 2021 Amena Saiyid

Legislation to boost the number of charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs) and hydrogen refueling stations was introduced in the US Senate 25 March.

The "Securing America's Clean Fuels Infrastructure Act" would achieve that end by extending the federal tax credit, which was due to expire at the end of 2021, by another eight years to 31 December 2029 and by increasing the cap for business investments from $30,000 to $200,000.

This means any installation installed by 31 December 2029 would be eligible for the tax credit, and that it would apply to "any such item" on the property, meaning it can applied to individual charging or refueling units instead of the property as a whole.

The bill now heads to the US Senate Finance Committee, which is headed by Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat-Oregon, who has written and backed legislation to extend tax credits for renewable energy sources.

If passed in both chambers of the US Congress, the bill would help with President Joe Biden's plans to decarbonize the nation's economy as well as near his stated goal of installing 500,000 EV charging outlets by the end of 2030.

Currently, there about 90,000 EV charging outlets across the US, according to a 19 March Credit Suisse equity research note that focused on EV development in the US. To reach Biden's goal, Credit Suisse said congressional support is needed.

There are just under 100 hydrogen refueling stations, most of them in California.

Breaking down financial obstacles

"The Securing America's Clean Fuels Infrastructure Act will break down the financial obstacles to building the hydrogen refueling and electric charging stations we need across our country," US Senator Tom Carper, Democrat-Delaware, the bill's coauthor, said in a statement.

Carper was joined by Democratic colleagues Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, and Republican Richard Burr of North Carolina to introduce the bill, which would amend the US Internal Revenue code that applies to the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property Tax Credit, commonly known as a "30C" credit.

The 30C credit applies to clean-burning fuels, which include electricity. It also applies to fuels containing at least 85% by volume of hydrogen, ethanol, natural gas—compressed and liquefied—and compressed petroleum gas.

"For our automakers to be globally competitive and to meet our climate goals, we need millions more electric and fuel cell vehicles on our roads in the next decade. By bringing down investment costs, our bill will ensure our nation starts building the necessary charging and clean vehicle refueling stations today," Carper, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and is a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement accompanying the bill.

Burr who also sits on the finance committee, agreed, saying the bill "incentivizes" private sector investment in aging infrastructure by "expanding renewable, clean fuel choices for American drivers."

The bill was introduced a day after Stephane Pollack, acting administrator for the Federal Highway Administration, said the agency would look at how to use existing rights-of-way to place charging stations for EVs.

'Game changer'

Thomas Maslin, associate director with IHS Markit North American Power & Renewable Power, called the bill "a game changer" much like investment tax credits were for solar and wind energy.

What's more important, the increase in business investment cap to $200,000 would allow the construction of much larger commercial, fast-charging stations than is the case right now, Maslin said, who specializes in EVs and solar, and distributed energy resources.

"This makes sense and would align with Biden's 500,000 EV goal and the goals of many other states," Maslin said.

The bill has broad support from Ford, Honda, General Motors, Volkswagen, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, the Electric Drive Transportation Association, the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Association, Stellantis, Duke Energy, Volta Charging, ChargePoint, EV Box Group, and the Hydrogen Energy Association. Also backing the bill are a number of environmental groups, including the Union of Concerned Scientists, Sierra Club, and the National Wildlife Federation.

Posted 25 March 2021 by Amena Saiyid, Senior Climate & Energy Research Analyst, IHS Markit

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