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Biden’s Ambitious EV Charging ‘Fantasy’ May Be On A Collision Course With Reality

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9 minute read

From the Daily Caller News Foundation

By NICK POPE

 

President Joe Biden has pledged to install 500,000 public electric vehicle (EV) chargers around the U.S. by 2030, but logistical hurdles may be too much to overcome.

The Biden administration landed $7.5 billion to build out a network of public EV charging stations around the country in the bipartisan infrastructure package of 2021, but those funds have only led to a handful of operational charging stations to date. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg reaffirmed the administration’s goal to build 500,000 chargers with the money by 2030 during a May television appearance on CBS News, but challenges like adding transmission lines, navigating the permitting process and coordinating with utility companies figure to make the goal improbable.

As of April 1, the administration’s $7.5 billion push had only led to seven operational charging stations combining for less than 40 chargers around the U.S., a pace that has drawn criticism from House Republicans and even Democratic Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley. While other projects are on their way to being built and operational, the nation’s EV charging infrastructure remains mostly concentrated in more densely-populated, coastal areas of the country, according to the Department of Energy (DOE).

While results have been slow to materialize, federal funding should be sufficient to build approximately 25,000 charging spots at about 5,000 stations, according to Atlas Public Policy, a policy analysis organization that focuses specifically on EVs. In order to reach those figures by 2030, the administration’s funding will have to spur the construction of more than 900 stations each year until then, a big step up from the program’s output of less than 10 stations over nearly three years.

“Our programs are accelerating private sector investment that puts us on track to deploy 500,000 charging ports well ahead of schedule and continue to expand a convenient and reliable charging network,” a Department of Transportation spokesperson told the DCNF. “There are currently projects underway in partnership with states and local grantees for 14,000 federally-funded EV charging ports across the country under the [National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI)] and [Charging and Fueling Infrastructure (CFI)] programs that will build on the 184,000 chargers operational today.”

Of the 184,000 chargers in operation today, more than 107,000 were already in circulation as of 2020, the last full year before the Biden administration took office, according to the DOE. Moreover, there are only about 10,000 fast charger stations in the U.S., a number that EV proponents would like to see increase to alleviate the public’s concerns about EV range and recharging wait times, according to The Washington Post.

Some of the biggest logistical hurdles are ones that may not be immediately obvious, such as enduring the process of building out needed transmission lines and upgrading existing utility infrastructure to accommodate hundreds of thousands of new chargers, according to experts who spoke with the Daily Caller News Foundation about whether such a number of chargers will be operational by 2030.

One skeptical expert is Dr. Jonathan Lesser, a senior fellow at the National Center for Energy Analytics and president of Continental Economics. Lesser estimates that “hundreds of thousands of miles” of new transmission lines will be needed to deliver enough electricity to the right places to meet the administration’s goal, a tall order given that the U.S. managed to complete less than 700 miles of transmission projects in 2022, according to data aggregated by Statista.

Lesser wrote his own analysis of the challenges the administration’s EV charger push faces for The Hill on Monday.

“The administration’s efforts to mandate EVs without considering the physical infrastructure to charge them (to say nothing of the cost), not only highway charging stations but also the necessary upgrades to millions of miles of local distribution circuits and transformers for home charging – is either an exercise in green virtue signaling or a cynical effort to restrict Americans’ mobility,” Lesser told the DCNF. “If EVs are the wave of the future then consumers will purchase them without the need for mandates and the private sector will develop the necessary infrastructure, just as it did a century ago and just as Tesla has done for its vehicles, without the need for government intervention.”

“If all those chargers were in place, you would need hundreds of thousands of large transformers and transmission lines along highways to provide the electricity,” Lesser continued. “You would also need linemen to install everything – and they are already in short supply. Of course, none of this addresses the issue of where the electricity comes from – if it is to be from renewables (e.g., wind and solar), there would have to be a massive building effort.”

Lesser believes there is “not a chance” that the 500,000 charger goal is met by 2030, and added that Buttigieg’s suggestion the administration will reach that target amounts to “pure fantasy.”

In addition to the billions of dollars meant to subsidize public charging infrastructure, the administration is also spending big to help manufacturers produce more EVs and to blunt the higher costs of EVs for consumers. Further, federal agencies have also promulgated aggressive fuel economy standards and tailpipe emissions rules that will force significant increases in EV sales over the next decade for light-, medium- and heavy-duty models.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm described the chargers covered by the $7.5 billion program as “the hardest ones because they’re going to places where the private sector hasn’t gone because there’s no electricity, because they’re remote” at Politico’s 2024 Energy Summit remarks on Wednesday.

Aidan Mackenzie — an infrastructure fellow at the Institute for Progress with particular expertise covering energy, transportation and housing policy — agreed that logistical challenges are likely to hinder the administration’s goal for charger deployment by 2030. Specifically, he highlighted securing complementary infrastructure, like transmission lines, as likely to sap time and resources away from the effort to construct a national network of public chargers.

“It seems like it’s going to be hard to meet this target,” Mackenzie told the DCNF. “Different utility regions do not necessarily have an incentive to plan or build large capacity transmission lines that share power. They often interrupt the way that utilities want to control the generation in their region. So, I would very much expect that to be the binding constraint.”

However, Mackenzie added that the administration could achieve the desired results of its $7.5 billion program and its broader goal of 500,000 charger goal if regulators and builders are able to develop “muscle memory” in the earlier stages of rollout so that officials from both sectors can more easily and quickly navigate complex processes in the near future.

Automotive

It’s Time To Abandon Reckless EV Mandates

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From Canadians for Affordable Energy

Dan McTeague

Written By Dan McTeague

Already, billions of tax dollars have been handed out in subsidies to companies that have no accountability to the Canadian taxpayer. This experiment in societal re-engineering will disproportionately harm Canadian workers and families, especially those who live in rural communities.

And it will surely fail

Canada is not nearly ready for the wholesale adoption of electric vehicles (EVs).

That was the message of the letter I sent to every member of Parliament recently, urging them to drop the “Electric Vehicle Availability Standard” introduced by the Trudeau government late last year. That’s the policy that mandates that all new vehicles sold in Canada must be electric by 2035. There is no way, considering the economic, technological and infrastructural realities of our country — and our world — where this is possible.

Stubbornly attempting to achieve this goal would do serious damage to our economy, leaving Canadian taxpayers on the hook for generations to come. Already, billions of tax dollars have been handed out in subsidies to companies that have no accountability to the Canadian taxpayer. This experiment in societal re-engineering will disproportionately harm Canadian workers and families, especially those who live in rural communities.

And it will surely fail. In my letter I highlight a few of the central reasons why staying the course on EV mandates by 2035 is extremely reckless. Right off the bat, the technology is simply not there for electric vehicles to be a reliable source of transportation in Canada’s climate. The batteries cannot hold their charge in frigid temperatures. Forcing Canadians to rely on vehicles that can’t handle our winters is irresponsible and dangerous.

Electric vehicles’ cost is another issue. Right now, the EV market relies heavily on government subsidies. These subsidies can’t last forever. But without them EVs are prohibitively expensive. Even with them, the costs of maintaining an EV are high. Replacing a damaged battery, for example, can cost upwards of $20,000. Mandating that people buy vehicles they can’t afford to either purchase in the first place or maintain if they do buy them is political malpractice.

A fact long ignored by decision-makers in Ottawa is that our electrical grid isn’t ready for the excess demand that would come with widespread EV adoption. These mandates, paired with the government’s goal of fully decarbonizing the grid by 2035, put us on a collision course with the reality of unreliable power. A grid powered, not by reliable fossil fuels, but by spotty wind and solar energy would be further burdened with millions of cars relying exclusively on electricity.

Beyond the electricity itself, the EV mandates will require additional transmission and distribution capacity. But there are no signs any plan is in place to expand our transmission capacity to meet the 2035 target.

The sheer number of new charging stations required by wholesale adoption of EVs will strain our distribution networks. Natural Resources Canada projections show that Canada will need between 442,000 and 469,000 public charging ports by 2035. At the moment, we have roughly 28,000. And that doesn’t include the private charging stations people will need to install at home. Closing that gap in such a tight time frame is almost certainly impossible.

All of those considerations aside, at a fundamental level the government’s push for electric vehicles encroaches on the operation of the free market, all in the name of emissions reductions. The Canadian economy is founded on the market principle that the consumer drives the economy (no pun intended). Thousands of times over, it has been shown that if there is enough demand for a product, supply soon follows. In the case of EVs, however, the federal government is operating under the assumption that if you somehow create a supply, that will inspire a demand.

This hasn’t worked in any of the countries where it’s been attempted, which is why nations around the world have started to tap the brakes on EV mandates. Decision-makers in Ottawa need to follow suit and abandon these reckless and costly mandates. Let the market decide when EVs are ready for prime time. In other words, let Canadians decide.

Dan McTeague is President of Canadians for Affordable Energy

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Automotive

Many Gen Z and millennial Canadians don’t believe in EV corporate welfare

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From the Fraser Institute

By Tegan Hill and Jake Fuss

The Parliamentary Budget Officer recently estimated federal government support for EV initiatives will cost Canadian taxpayers $31.4 billion, which represents roughly $1,043 per tax filer.

According to a new Leger poll, a significant percentage of Gen Z and millennial Canadians don’t believe that billions of dollars in government subsidies to build electric vehicle (EV) plants—including $5 billion to Honda, $13.2 billion to Volkswagen and $15 billion to Stellantis—will benefit them. And based on a large body of research, they’re right.

The poll, which surveyed Canadians aged 18 to 39 who are eligible to vote, found that only 32 per cent of respondents believe these subsidies (a.k.a. corporate welfare) will be of “significant benefit to your generation” while 28 per cent disagree and 25 per cent are on the fence.

Unfortunately, this type of taxpayer-funded corporate welfare isn’t new. The federal government spent an estimated $84.6 billion (adjusted for inflation) on business subsidies from 2007 to 2019, the last pre-COVID year of data. Over the same period, provincial and local governments spent another $302.9 billion on business subsidies for their favoured firms and industries. And these figures exclude other forms of government support such as loan guarantees, direct investments and regulatory privileges, so the actual cost of corporate welfare during this period was much higher.

The Trudeau government has shown a particular proclivity for corporate welfare. According to a recent study, federal subsidies have increased by 140 per cent from 2014/15 to 2023/24. But again, the money used to fund these subsidies isn’t free—its funded by taxpayers. The Parliamentary Budget Officer recently estimated federal government support for EV initiatives will cost Canadian taxpayers $31.4 billion, which represents roughly $1,043 per tax filer.

And Canadians are right to be skeptical. Despite what the Trudeau or provincial governments claim, there’s little to no evidence that corporate welfare creates jobs (on net) or produces widespread economic benefits.

Instead, by giving money to select firms, the government simply shifts jobs and investment away from other firms and industries—which are likely more productive, as they don’t require government funding to be economically viable—to the government’s preferred industries and firms, circumventing the preferences of consumers and investors. If Honda, Volkswagen and Stellantis are unwilling to build their EV battery plants in Canada without corporate welfare, that sends a strong signal that those projects make little economic sense.

Finally, higher taxes (or lower government spending in other areas) ultimately fund corporate welfare. And higher taxes depress economic activity—the higher the rates, the more economic activity is discouraged.

Unfortunately, the Trudeau government believes it knows better than investors and entrepreneurs, so it continues to use taxpayer money to allocate scarce resources—including labour—to their favoured projects and industries. And since politicians spend other people’s money, they have little incentive to be careful investors.

Canadians, including young Canadians, are right to be skeptical of corporate welfare. As the evidence suggests, there’s little reason to think it will lead to any economic benefit for them.

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