Senate charges up electric cars, clears energy nominees

“Batteries and components are now being manufactured in the U.S., and we are developing the supply chain necessary to support these home-grown technologies. But in addition to making the vehicles and components available, we also need to take steps to ensure the infrastructure exists to make these vehicles desirable and accessible to consumers,” he said.

Proponents of the legislation, which has bipartisan sponsorship, say it won’t cost taxpayers any money. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) noted that the bill, S. 739, funds the installation and maintenance of the charging stations by billing the people who use them.

“S. 739 works on a simple premise: the more people who drive electric cars on campus, the more plug-in stations the [Architect of the Capitol] will install,” he said, according to the Congressional Record. “S. 739 ensures that the demand for plug-in stations will match the number of dues-paying participants who fund the program.”

A number of automakers have begun rolling out electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf and the Ford Focus Electric.

But electric cars are currently a tiny niche market, and the availability of charging infrastructure is seen as key to eventual growth of the plug-in sector.

The Senate also cleared a trio of Obama administration nominees for energy-related jobs Thursday before heading out of town.

Lawmakers confirmed Adam Sieminski — a high-profile Deutsche Bank economist — to head the Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department’s independent statistical forecasting and analysis arm.

Its roles include production of weekly energy price and inventory data, as well as a suite of other closely watched data and analyses — ranging from short-term to decades out — of energy prices, production, consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and other areas.

EIA also provides legislative analyses for Capitol Hill lawmakers.

In addition, the Senate confirmed two nominees for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission: Republican Tony Clark, who is replacing the departed Marc Spitzer, and Democrat John Norris, a sitting FERC commissioner whom Obama nominated to a second term.