By Ben Geman - 05/25/11 03:27 PM EDT
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) is also bullish on the Merkley-Alexander plan.
Their bill contains a suite of provisions aimed at expanding the use of electric vehicles, which are now just a tiny niche market but are viewed as a promising way to curb oil dependence.
The legislation would create new Energy Department programs, such as expanded technical assistance to state and local governments and support for workforce training needed around charging infrastructure and other issues.
A key provision would create “deployment communities” throughout the country, with goals including deployment of 400,000 plug-in vehicles in these areas.
Other features of the communities — which are designed to provide models for rapid national deployment — would include demonstration of how the vehicles are integrated into the electric grid and increasing domestic manufacturing, among others.
The bill also authorizes funding for various R&D programs, requires new planning by utilities and authorizes loan guarantees for charging infrastructure, among many other measures.