Today is the last day you can leave comments for the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy with respect to an electric car rebate for both new and used Electric Vehicles. If you do wish to leave comments, please try to watch the video attached to the comments form.
For the record, here is my testimony:
Thank you Delegate Reid for proposing HB717. I am sorry it’s taken so long for me to add my testimony but what I want to say is to add, as I said in my committee testimony, that providing Rebates on new and used Electric Cars has long-term CO₂ benefits. Considering first when someone is interested in buying their first vehicle. If we put a rebate on that first vehicle, new or used, then the buyer will be more inclined to stick with electric for the second, third, and fourth car. What’s more, it makes her family more likely to continue the tradition of an electric car family.
Secondly, some of the most polluting vehicles in our Commonwealth are owned by those Virginians of lesser means. The problem for them is that electric cars are too expensive, even used electrics. We need a rebate that puts the $5,000 LEAF into the hands of those folks who now drive the most polluting ICE vehicles of all. This would give us the biggest bang for the buck. They are also usually the least fuel efficient vehicles, and thus moving them to use fuel generated right here in the Commonwealth would greatly reduce our local fuel imports.
That is why we need a rebate of the maximum amount for both the cheapest of vehicles and for first time car buyers.
This is also why it must be a Rebate at the dealership. It shouldn’t be like Maryland where the application is submitted and the buyer has to wait for money allocated in the General Fund. The Virginia bill should be based on a fuel tax, in this case, I think a tax should be passed on all coal and natural gas (CH₄, methane) plants which generate power for the electric car. That would have the dual benefit of pushing Dominion to move more of its generation to renewable. Since electric cars will be generating more revenue for the Power Utilities, using a tax on Dominion to pay for more revenue for Dominion seems very apropos. What’s more, this will get us out of the trap of waiting for more money from the General Fund when many used vehicle drivers can’t afford to wait that long. Indeed, ideally, if the dealership could apply the rebate and then file it with the Commonwealth to be reimbursed, then this would be idea for first time electric car buyers. If that can’t be done, having the dealership file the paperwork and send the check to the buyer would be acceptable.
Beyond that, please consider not the MSRP of a vehicle when setting the cap on the Rebate, but rather the value used to generate property tax. None of the feature add-ons like Tesla Autopilot should put a vehicle outside of the price cap. AutoPilot is a feature that makes electric cars safer, and pricing it out of the rebate could result in fewer cars with that feature and thus less safe vehicles.
I think the Maryland cap of $60,000 is good for Virginia as we are similar states. I would also accept $50,000, which is still available to the base model Tesla if Autopilot is ignored. But the top of the cap should be graded, such that, if the cap is $50,000, a $49,000 vehicle gets a maximum of $1,000, a $48,000 gets $2,000 max, until the price goes down to a point where the full cap can be realized. That would alleviate any shock by the price going up astronomically at $50,001.
As for how to scale the rebate, I would like our goal to be based on the total number of vehicle registrations in the Commonwealth. Ideally, we should target total registrations, like 1% of all vehicles registered in Virginia be the goal for full funding, and 2% of all registrations be 66% of the rebate, and 3% of all registrations grant 33% of the rebate. I don’t think those are necessarily the best drawdown numbers, but I think the drawdown should be in those terms.
Finally, as I said, first and cheapest cars should get the biggest rebate, regardless. But for vehicles not in those categories, that still fall under the price caps, I’d like a sliding scale based on the battery pack size. Any battery rated at least 10kWh or more would qualify for the full rebate, but each kWh less removes 10% from the rebate. Thus, a 5kWh battery gets 50% of the rebate.
Thank you for reading my comments and I look forward to the final report.Testimony by Jeffrey C. Jacobs to the Virginia DMME
I’m quite fond of the sliding scales in terms of tapering rather than full cutoff for the rebate and the reduced payout for smaller electric car batteries. I didn’t mention the poverty rate and left it vague in those terms, letting others fill in those details. I also spelled Delegate Reid’s name incorrectly, though it is fixed here.
The DMME plans to have its final report ready around October so it’ll be interesting if they incorporate any of my ideas into the final bill. I wish I could have attended the original public session but the news got to me too late. This is all I could do.
I miss cruising upon a cloud these days, but I hope this passes so more can enjoy the pleasure!