Study Exposes Hidden Cost of Electric Vehicles

New Report Finds Them ‘Significantly More Expensive to Own,’ Reveals Toxic Consequences for ‘Disadvantaged Communities’ Who Mine Battery Materials

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Energy Equality Coalition today released a video highlighting a new study that examines the hidden cost of Electric Vehicles. The study, conducted by globally recognized consulting firm Arthur D. Little, raises alarm about the environmental damage caused in the production of Electric Vehicles and offers fresh data on the high price of owning one. 

“Electric Vehicles are much more expensive and much less environmentally friendly than industry propaganda suggests,” said spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg. “This study offers underreported truths about the industry and we’ll ensure policy makers receive a copy as they debate requiring working-class taxpayers to subsidize electric vehicles they could never afford to own themselves.”

Arthur D. Little Report Findings

“[Battery Electric Vehicles] generate a host of secondary environmental impacts greater than those of [Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles] … We found that over a twenty-year vehicle lifetime, a 2015 BEV generates enough human toxicity potential to impact human health by 20 days lost to death or disability… Battery pack manufacturing and more specifically human exposure to heavy metals such as cobalt and nickel in addition to graphite during the mining process accounts for the vast majority of human toxicity potential…The production of lithium-ion battery packs creates more damaging pollution to human life than ICEV generate over the course of a vehicle’s lifetime.” (Arthur D. Little Report, 11/29/16)

“...a consumer who chooses to drive a BEV over an ICEV shifts the environmental impact of car ownership. As detailed in a recent series of investigative reports by the Washington Post, much of the cobalt and graphite entering the supply chain for lithium-ion batteries is sourced from poorly regulated and heavily polluting mines in Congo and China. While the BEV driver reduces their local contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, they create a more diffuse set of environmental impacts spread across the globe, the consequences of which are largely borne by rural and often disadvantaged communities near the mines from which BEV suppliers source raw materials for battery pack manufacturing.” (Arthur D. Little Report, 11/29/16)

“Our study concluded that BEVs were significantly more expensive to own… BEVs are cheaper to operate than their ICEV counterparts. However, this cost advantage was subsumed by other factors, such as the higher manufacturing costs for BEVs, and the BEV’s need for a replacement battery pack and an alternative mode of transportation. Ultimately, the high underlying cost of BEVs is a limiting factor in their future market penetration in the US automotive market.” (Arthur D. Little Report, 11/29/16)

EEC Background: The Energy Equality Coalition is fighting to end unfair subsidies and ensure a level playing field for American energy consumers. The EEC works to educate the public about energy policies that disproportionately benefit the richest among us at the expense of working-class Americans. We believe there should be balance in energy policies, not special treatment for an elite few who can afford to take advantage of them. energyequalitycoalition.org

Finally Some Fairness For Electricity Ratepayers

By George Landrith, editorial

The Hill

July 18, 2016

As an essential commodity that powers every modern household, electricity is something most of us wouldn’t know how to live without. Families at all income levels rely on it to power everything from their coffee pot in the morning to their reading lamp at night. We rely on it to heat our homes, warm our meals and charge our devices. But electricity is not getting any cheaper.

Anyone who’s monitored their utility bills over the past eight years has seen a steady increase in the amount they owe. And while rising prices squeeze every ratepayer, they have particularly dramatic consequences for the already tight budgets of America’s working poor. So as lawmakers shape energy policy, it’s critically important that they consider the needs of those among us who are struggling financially.

One idea currently under consideration by Congress is called The Ratepayer Fairness Act. It was authored by Congressman Mike Pompeo of Kansas and Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona and aims to protect working-class Americans from covering the costs of special energy technologies they could never afford to use themselves.

The proposal requires public utilities to examine whether new policies benefit only a small number of wealthy electric consumers, then directs them to publicize their findings. It also compels utilities to study whether new policies hand affluent ratepayers an unfair advantage or have a negative impact on the security of our energy infrastructure.

The appropriately named Ratepayer Fairness Act is an uncontroversial way to ensure utilities focus on the pocketbooks of those most vulnerable to rising electricity prices. It recently passed the House as part of a larger energy package and now awaits consideration in the new Conference Committee tasked with blending House and Senate energy bills together.

At the Energy Equality Coalition, we believe authorities should consider the working poor before requiring them to subsidize technology they could never afford. That's why our coalition supports The Ratepayer Fairness Act and urges members of the Conference Committee to preserve it in the final bill.

The Energy Equality Coalition is fighting to end unfair subsidies and ensure a level playing field for American energy consumers. The EEC works to educate the public about energy policies that disproportionately benefit the richest among us at the expense of working-class Americans. We believe there should be balance in energy policies, not special treatment for an elite few who can afford to take advantage of them.

Our supporters are energized and eager to share their concerns with members of the new conference committee on the energy bill. And we’re confident that our message will resonate beyond the halls of the Capitol building. After all, who can oppose a level playing field for working-class energy consumers?

Landrith is a board member of the Energy Equality Coalition. He is also President and CEO of Frontiers of Freedom, a public policy think tank that promotes range of free market principles. Landrith is a recognized legal expert who appears frequently on radio, television and in print.

 

 

The Case of the Missing Teslas

The Wall Street Journal

July 3, 2016

By Charley Grant

Add yet another problem to the list at Tesla Motors TSLA -3.02 % : lackluster growth.

Tesla announced on Sunday that it delivered 14,370 vehicles in the second quarter. That is well below its own forecast of about 17,000, which it gave in May. Although sales of its Model X grew significantly from the first quarter, its signature Model S sedan actually saw sales fall sequentially by more than 22%. That is surprising since Tesla said in May that Model S orders were strong. The company has now missed its own deliveries guidance for two consecutive quarters.

The electric auto maker has delivered fewer than 30,000 cars in the first half of the year, putting its full-year forecast of 80,000 to 100,000 in serious jeopardy. Tesla says it expects to deliver “about 50,000” cars in the next six months. That isn’t impossible, but Sunday’s news is disconcerting. Since Tesla can’t successfully forecast deliveries more than two months out, it stretches CEO Elon Musk’s bold forecast of 500,000 deliveries by 2018 from improbable to farcical.

...

Click here to continue reading the full article. 

EEC Urges Energy Conference To Preserve Ratepayer Fairness

WASHINGTON, DC – The Energy Equality Coalition released the following statement today urging Members of Congress to preserve The Ratepayer Fairness Act as House and Senate passed energy bills head toward a Conference Committee.

“The House passed energy bill includes a ratepayer fairness provision that aims to protect working-class Americans from covering the costs of special energy technologies used only by the wealthy,” said spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg. “We believe authorities should consider the working poor before requiring them to subsidize technology they could never afford. That's why our coalition supports The Ratepayer Fairness Act and urges members of the Conference Committee to preserve it in the final bill.”

The Ratepayer Fairness Act: Authored by Congressman Mike Pompeo of Kansas and Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona this measure was included in H.R. 8, the larger House passed energy bill. The Ratepayer Fairness Act requires public utilities to examine whether the policies they enact benefit only a small number of wealthy electricity consumers, and then publicize their findings. The bill also compels utilities to study whether new policies provide an unfair competitive advantage or negatively impact resource utilization and grid security.

EEC Background: The Energy Equality Coalition is fighting to end unfair subsidies and ensure a level playing field for American energy consumers. The EEC works to educate the public about energy policies that disproportionately benefit the richest among us at the expense of working-class Americans. We believe there should be balance in energy policies, not special treatment for an elite few who can afford to take advantage of them. http://www.energyequalitycoalition.org/

###

Senators Dueling over Solar Subsidies

With the Senate dedicating a fair amount of floor time to the Energy Policy Modernization Act, Republican senators are taking the opportunity to shine a light on bad practices in the energy economy through the amendment process.

Arizona's Jeff Flake, whose home state is ground zero in the solar trade, has filed 11 amendments to the bill. While some amendments are bipartisan, and others less so, one proposal stands out: Amendment #3053, on the topic of "Ratepayer Fairness."

With the Senate dedicating a fair amount of floor time to the Energy Policy Modernization Act, Republican senators are taking the opportunity to shine a light on bad practices in the energy economy through the amendment process.

Arizona's Jeff Flake, whose home state is ground zero in the solar trade, has filed 11 amendments to the bill. While some amendments are bipartisan, and others less so, one proposal stands out: Amendment #3053, on the topic of "Ratepayer Fairness."

The Prescott eNews summarizes:

Establishes a new Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act standard requiring state regulatory authorities and non-regulated boards to examine whether new policies would result in cost shifts among customers, where a large customer class ends up cross-subsidizing a technology only used by a few customers. Flake introduced this amendment as a standalone bill (S.2384), and U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) successfully offered a substantially similar amendment to the House energy bill (H.R. 8, Section 1107).

Pushing for the amendment, Flake is pushing back on a competing amendment proposed by Senators King (I-ME), and Minority Leader Reid (D-NV) that would, as UtilityDive reports:

protect rooftop solar customers from changes to their net metering rates enacted after they install their systems. While existing solar users are typically "grandfathered in" to new rate structures, a recent decision in Nevada applied new, lower remuneration rates for rooftop solar generation to existing solar customers as well as new ones.

State utility commissions, at the behest of environmentalists, have adopted mandates for renewable energy that power companies must comply with. Even in sunny states, this has created an artificial "rooftop solar" market, replete with federal tax incentives, state tax incentives, and of course, rebates and reimbursements for homeowners who install rooftop solar panels. Homeowners who, for the most part, are typically wealthy, or least far from poor.

Even with all of these "nudges" from the feds and states, King and Reid are trying to keep the reimbursement rates for rooftop solar artificially high. This has drawn criticism from a broad swath of groups, including energy industry competitors. But it's also being opposed by groups representing "historically underrepresented consumers" like the National Black Caucus of State Legislators and the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

In their letter to the Senate opposing King and Reid's amendment, the groups write:

"the real impacts net energy metering has on those living on the lower end of the economic scale. Already, we spend a higher percentage of our incomes on energy than others, and adding any more to our bills is just too much, regardless of our support for solar."

In other words, the groups argue that subsidizing rooftop solar payments will mean higher rates for everyone else.

Flake's amendment would require these state agencies to look at whether measures like "net metering" and requiring the construction of electric car charging stations costs other consumers money.

A spokesman for the Energy Equality Coalition praised Flake's measure, saying: "We believe authorities should consider the working-poor before requiring them to subsidize technology they could never afford, and that's why we support Senator Flake's Ratepayer Fairness proposal."

As both technologies are generally toys for the rich, what sense does it make to force everyone else to ensure Teslas are properly charged and rooftop solar enthusiasts get a good ROI?

The Senate is expected to continue debate on the measure through the end of the week and it's unclear whether either amendment will be guaranteed a vote. Will rich environmentalists win again? Or will Flake impose his version of fairness? Stay tuned to C-SPAN 2 to find out.

Chevy Volt 'Father' Bob Lutz Changes Tune on Electric Vehicles

When Bob Lutz speaks, automotive journalists listen. Well, at least they usually do. When a recent Automotive News roundtable discussion showed Lutz blasting General Motors’ Chevy Bolt (and electric vehicles like it), mainstream journalists failed to pick up on the story. Lutz was right on the money when he exposed the EV folly, which is costing automakers billions of dollars and driving up prices of conventional, gas-powered vehicles.

Bob Lutz certainly has credibility in the automotive world. As an ex-GM executive he was known as the father of the Chevy Volt, a taxpayer-subsidized vehicle that I have had plenty of criticism for. Now that such a noted figure as Lutz has changed direction and is questioning the logic of lithium-ion battery technology, the automotive community should be taking notice.

So, since Lutz’s criticisms carry much more weight than my own, we can proceed to some of the bombshells that were dropped by him during the interview which featured six automotive “superstars.” The roundtable discussion addressed Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne’s assertion that “automakers waste billions on pointless R&D investment and destroy heaps of shareholder value.”

Here are the excerpts from a transcript of the discussion:

FORMER GM VICE CHAIRMAN BOB LUTZ: The automobile business consumes enormous amounts of capital, which is why our fixed cost is so high and why when there's a downturn and the volume collapses, we're all into the multibillion-dollar losses and hemorrhaging cash.

Regarding the Chevy Bolt, which is the latest GM electric car being hyped:

LUTZ: I no longer have access to General Motors figures, but I would be surprised and shocked if the 200-mile electric Bolt is going to make money. You look at the cost per kilowatt hour of batteries and the number of kilowatt hours they have got in there and then you look at the selling price. It's just not going to work.

OK, in case any of you automotive journalists are paying attention, that bears repeating. BOB LUTZ JUST SAID THE CHEVY BOLT IS NOT GOING TO WORK. And Lutz is just getting warmed up! There’s more:

LUTZ: For the last 30 or 40 years, investors and analysts have been saying the automobile business is a great consumer of capital and does not return economic value to the shareholders.

What's new here? This is the first time somebody in the business — rather than being defensive and saying, “Wait until next year” and “We just went through a rough patch,” etc., etc. — is agreeing with the premise that the automobile business is a destroyer of capital. It really is.

And regarding the mandates to force money-losing electric cars and alternative vehicles on the public:

LUTZ: Yeah. Just do one fuel cell vehicle and have about six companies each participate in the architecture so that at least they might attain a volume of maybe 100,000, so that everybody can have their 5,000 or 6,000, which they're going to need to comply with California.

I don't know if anybody noticed, but full-size sport-utilities used to be — just a few years ago used to be $42,000, all in, fully equipped. You can't touch a Chevy Tahoe for under about $65 [thousand] now. Yukons are in the $70 [thousands]. The Escalade comfortably hits $100 [thousand]. Three or four years ago they were about $60,000. What this is, is companies trying to recover what they're losing at the other end with what I call compliance vehicles, which are Chevy Volts, Bolts, plug-in Cadillacs and fuel cell vehicles.

So my new friend Bob now says that the money-losing electric cars like the Chevy Volt, Chevy Bolt and Cadillac ELR are adding up to $40,000 in cost to conventionally-powered SUVs so that GM can absorb the losses! What a poor way to run a company. It is baffling that there has not been more criticism for the EV folly which is seeing wealthy buyers of Chevy Volts and Cadillac ELRs getting a taxpayer supplied federal credit of $7,500 each while buyers of other GM vehicles are paying thousands of dollars more to make up for the losses incurred by GM in building the electric losers. So, is there any hope in ending this madness, Bob?

LUTZ: Ultimately capitalism is going to talk. As long as the price-earnings ratios of automobile companies are where they are … the automobile industry is going to have a tough time generating new capital. At some point, there is going to be pressure from shareholders, shareholder activists, hedge funds or whatever, for mergers.

Thanks, Bob. It is great to hear from you and I am glad to see you are now speaking very logically about the feasibility of cars like the Bolt and Volt. Unfortunately, mergers alone will not solve the politically-popular folly of electric cars. The Obama Administration was set on forcing electric cars like the Chevy Volt on the public, despite the lack of feasibility. Republican representatives do not seem to want to end the ridiculous EV subsidies, even though in most cases the cars make no economic sense, nor do they help the environment.

Let’s hope noted figures like Bob Lutz can bring to light the ill-effects of our government trying to pick winners and losers instead of allowing free markets to work. Electric cars may or may not be the long-term solution to reducing oil dependence. Current evidence points to two things, one is that electric cars are not the future answer and two is that our government should step back and let logical alternatives develop without their heavy-handed and costly intervention.

Mark Modica is an NLPC Associate Fellow.

Biz & Tech PG&E wants ratepayers to foot bill for 25,000 car chargers

As more Californians switch to electric cars, the state’s biggest utility — Pacific Gas and Electric Co. — sees a new potential role for itself:

Gas station owner.

PG&E on Monday announced plans to install 25,000 electric car chargers across Northern and Central California, in what the company billed as the nation’s largest charger deployment project yet. The utility, based in San Francisco, described the $653.8 million effort as an important step toward reaching Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal of having 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the state’s roads by 2025.

California already has more than 100,000 electric cars on its roads, a greater number than any other state or country. And 60 percent of those cars reside in PG&E’s territory. But many potential buyers still suffer from “range anxiety,” the fear of running out of juice on the open road. More public charging stations would soothe that fear.

“There is some growth in EV adoption, there is some growth in (charging) infrastructure, but the growth is nowhere near where we need it to be to reach the state’s goals,” said James Ellis, director of electric vehicle programs at PG&E.

While other companies — including automakers such as Tesla Motors, BMW and Volkswagen — are deploying charging stations as well, PG&E’s plan comes with a significant difference. The program’s cost would be paid by all 5.1 million of PG&E’s electricity customers, whether they own electric cars or not.

In California, utility profits are based largely on the value of the equipment they own — the substations, wires, meters and poles. The cost for the charging stations would be passed on to PG&E customers in the same way, adding about 70 cents to the monthly bill of a typical residential customer, starting in 2018.

As a result, PG&E’s plan requires the approval of the California Public Utilities Commission, which sets utility rates. PG&E submitted its proposal to the commission on Monday.

The idea of passing on the program’s costs irks consumer advocates. Mark Toney, executive director of The Utility Reform Network, noted that charging-station technology is advancing quickly. And it’s still not clear, he said, that electric vehicles will win in the looming head-to-head competition with fuel-cell vehicles, championed by Toyota, Hyundai and several other automakers.

“It’s way too early in this technology to know what’s going to be around for the long term,” Toney said. “The last thing we want to see is to invest millions of ratepayer dollars into a technology that’s going to be obsolete in five years.”

By collecting a stable rate of return from its existing customers, PG&E would profit from the deal even if fuel-cell vehicles emerge victorious.

The utility does not, however, want to get into the business of running the stations. PG&E would own all of the chargers, but would bring in other companies to install and manage them. Electric car drivers would have to pay those companies to use the chargers.

As envisioned by PG&E, the chargers would be deployed at offices, multifamily buildings, shopping centers and other public locations. Most of the stations would feature “level 2 chargers,” which add about 25 miles of battery range for every hour of charging. But 100 would be “DC fast chargers,” which can largely fill the batteries of most EVs in a half hour or less.

The fast chargers would be strategically placed between cities, to facilitate long-range travel. BMW, Volkswagen and ChargePoint of Campbell recently announced plans for a similar fast-charger network on the West Coast, linking San Diego with Portland, Ore.

PG&E insists it isn’t trying to crowd out businesses such as ChargePoint that are already deploying charging stations. By the utility’s estimate, reaching Brown’s 2025 goal would require roughly 100,000 charging stations in PG&E’s territory, which covers 70,000 square miles.

“PG&E is not looking to control the market, by any means,” Ellis said.

David R. Baker is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: dbaker@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @DavidBakerSF

Tesla Model X buyers could get $25,000 tax break - Energy Equality Coalition

The Hummer H1s and H2s weighed more than 6,000 pounds. A new Model X is said to weigh about 5,500 pounds, unladen. Its so-called "gross vehicular weight" would likely be over 6,000 pounds -- and qualify it for the tax break.

The $25,000 windfall, available only to buyers who own businesses and are making the automobile purchase as a business investment, would be in addition to other official incentives. Tesla's Model X, as a non-polluting, zero-emissions, battery-electric vehicle, also qualifies for a $7,500 federal tax deduction and a $2,500 California state rebate.

Tesla is particularly adept at using subsidies to market its cars, noting that the tax credits and state rebates help reduce the cost of ownership. 

The news of the tax break comes as the first Tesla Model Xs are beginning to roll onto California roadways. The company's second in-production vehicle, behind its $100,000 Model S electric four-door sedan, experienced repeated delivery delays. The first units were delivered to purchasers late last month, but the first round of deliveries was limited to only six vehicles.

One went to company CEO Elon Musk.

 

Those interested in buying a Model X can make deposits through the Palo Alto company's website. But they won't be told how much the car will ultimately cost. Tesla has not yet announced a base price for the vehicle.

Musk has previously said the X would start at about $5,000 more than a comparably equipped Model S sedan, which would put the starting price at about $81,200 before federal and state electric car purchase incentives. The price could run much higher with options, as the average transaction price for a Model S is over $100,000.

A Tesla spokesperson declined to address the tax break question. But Tesla spokeswoman Alexis Georgson told the online auto news organization Autoblog that a deduction "could be taken for up to $25,000 of the purchase price" of a new Model X.

But analysts believe the vehicle price could be considerably higher than the Model S, and that the company may have difficulty fulfilling orders.

Morgan Stanley Research analyst Adam Jonas said he estimates the price will be $25,000 more than the sale price of a Model S — "and easily $10k to $15k higher than we had expected," he wrote.

Pro: Providing tax credits for electric cars shifts Robin Hood storyline into reverse

EDITOR’S NOTE: The writer is addressing the question, “Should federal tax credits for electric cars be scrapped?”

A recent study from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, found that more than 90 percent of the tax subsidies provided by average Americans for electric vehicles benefit only the top quintile of earners.

The reason is simple: One must purchase one of these high-cost vehicles before being able to claim tax credits worth up to $7,500.

This Robin-Hood-in-reverse policy needs re-examination and revision. Not only shouldn’t a nation’s genuine pursuit of green energy transfer money from the less well-off to the well-to-do, but by subsidizing a luxury niche product, the green energy benefits also remain limited.

Tax subsidies to support policy objectives have a long history in the United States. Controversy has often attended such subsidies, starting with tax benefits to Virginia tobacco farmers in the 17th century, all the way to 20th century sugar crop price protections. Today, we see it in the recent Trans-Pacific Partnership discussions.

This tension naturally arises because the public benefits of these and similar programs must be measured against costs—generally, our taxes or higher prices.

With green car credits, well-intentioned public efforts to support clean energy have strayed into programs that, instead of supporting the spread of clean energy, work to pay wealthy individuals with money collected from average folk.

First, it is unwise policy because few cars are sold, and in turn, “green” benefits are limited. Tesla and its kin remain niche players because a subsidized $80,000 car is just as difficult to buy for an average-income individual as a non-subsidized $90,000 ride. These are not mass-market vehicle products.

Further, while the tax credits at issue are available for other, less costly cars, once manufacturers begin to sell more than a moderate amount of them, the tax subsidy is eliminated.

So, just at the point when the electric car model reaches the mass market, the tax assistance goes away. The incentive to buy green vehicles disappears when they enter the mass market.

The result: We don’t find a lot of electric cars on the road, except in certain well-to-neighborhoods in places like Palo Alto, Calif.

Overall, this “green” policy has merely shifted attention to questions of inequality and unfair income distribution without encouraging the volume of sales that is needed for the desired policy effect.

The policy doesn’t even benefit Tesla and other luxury electric car companies. These are advanced, carefully designed, and, in my view, wonderful vehicles. I want one.

By subsidizing low-volume luxury vehicle production, we alter the normal evolution of products from luxury to mass market and limit growth. U.S. economic history is replete with examples of niche manufacturers transforming their products for mass use.

When Henry Ford started the Ford Motor Company in 1903, automobiles were very expensive, custom-made playthings of the wealthy. Ford’s idea was to make a car that even the employees in his factories could afford. The result was the Model T, an inspired innovation in mass production that transformed of the American economy.

The same is true for the personal computer. Back in the 1980s, IBM entered the nascent market of affordable personal computing instead of remaining solely as a maker of expensive enterprise machines. This transformed the U.S. economy, too.

This credit should be abolished, or at least amended, to encourage high volume sales of electric vehicles for all.

We can accept tax subsidies for costs that we all must bear—child care or health expenses, for example, because they increase the availability of such services to everyone.

But if we tax relatively poorer people to pay relatively rich people to buy advanced cars, we are benefiting only a privileged few, not putting a lot of “green” cars on the road. It really is Robin Hood in reverse.

Robert Eberhart is an assistant professor of management at Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business. Readers may write him at Leavey School of Business, Lucas Hall 320, Santa Clara University, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95053.