August 21, 2020

The Electrification Coalition (EC) applauds key provisions to accelerate fuel diversity and transportation electrificationas well as electric grid modernization and security, that were included in Fiscal Year 2021 government funding legislation approved by the House of Representatives. 

It might have gotten lost in the flood of news coming out of Washington, but the House has approved an appropriations package (H.R. 7617) to fund the federal government for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins on October 1. House passage of this bill is only the first step in an often-lengthy process but will serve as a starting point for negotiations with the Senate. As “appropriations season” heats up in CongressSAFE and the EC urge the House and Senate to work together to make smart investments in grid and transportation electrification programs that move us towards an electrified transportation future.

Widespread deployment of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure can help us reduce the national security, economic, and emissions impacts of our dependence on oil by transitioning our transportation system to domestic, diverse, and abundant American energy. EVs give drivers a quiet, clean ride with lower maintenance costs, communities see improved air quality with zero tailpipe emissions, and our country relies less on a volatile and manipulated global oil market. In short: Robust funding for programs to accelerate EVs is a smart investment in an American-powered transportation sector with widespread benefits. 

Here are a few of the positive transportation electrification parts of the House-passed FY 2021 funding package: 

  • Low-/No-Emission Bus Grants: $125 million for the Low or No Emission Vehicle Program (Low-No) to purchase electric buses and charging infrastructure, expediting the transition of additional bus fleets away from diesel to American-made energy. As cities increasingly turn to bus electrification as a sustainability solution, there is significant pent-up demand for the popular Low-No Program, with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) receiving applications for nearly six times the amount of available funding provided in FY 2019.  
  • Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) Grants: $450 million for DERA grants to help states and localities protect human health and improve air quality by reducing harmful emissions from diesel engines. DERA funds should be used to reduce emissions by replacing dirty diesel-burning vehicles with EVs powered by clean U.S. energy. 
  • Advanced Vehicle Technologies & Manufacturing: $1 billion for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Vehicles Technologies Office (VTO) to develop electric and alternative-fueled vehicles. The VTO supports a variety of work to lower the cost and increase the convenience of electric vehicles. The funding bill includes $500 million for DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, of which $250 million is set aside for battery supply chain support and $125 million is reserved for a domestic manufacturing conversion grant. 
  • Charging Infrastructure: $632.2 million to provide necessary charging infrastructure along corridor-ready or corridor-pending alternative fuel corridors. This funding is for national corridors that the Department of Transportation has designated for alternative fuel infrastructure and should primarily go to EV infrastructure. 
  • Grid Modernization: Support and funding for grid modernization in a cross-cutting manner, including cybersecurity, energy storage, resilience, and a recognition of the need to address cybersecure EV charging. These issues are critical as we face evolving human- and natural-caused threats to the grid and our national security. Recognizing that these threats do not fit into traditional “silos” also is vital. 

Many funding levels in the House-passed bills mirror language in a bipartisan infrastructure stimulus package, H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act. That measure, which the House approved in early July, would enhance U.S. energy security by accelerating fuel diversity and grid and transportation security, enhance economic competitiveness, and job creation. Many of the critical provisions in H.R. 2 were proposed in the recent Get America Moving Again (GAMA) economic recovery and national security proposal released by SAFE.