When the “Affordable” Fashion Needs a Subsidy


Here’s a telling story, from Susan Cambell of WPRI:

Piette said the [electric] car was an affordable option because of rebates and tax credits. One of them he was banking on? A $2,500 rebate from Rhode Island’s DRIVE program. (DRIVE is short for Driving Rhode Island to Vehicle Electrification.)

“That $2,500 was going to help me put in a charging station at the house here,” Piette explained. “The car takes about 18 hours to charge on 110 [volts], but it takes four to five hours on the system I’d be putting in.”

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Unfortunately, when Mr. Piette bought the car, he wasn’t aware that the funds for the subsidy had just dried up.  Now the car requires more than just an overnight-charge, and he apparently won’t spend his own money on what he was willing to force taxpayers to cover.

One wonders how pervasive this phenomenon will prove if ever our government finds it can’t continue to subsidize (by tax or by rate-payer mandate) everything from electric cars to home rooftop solar to offshore wind farms.  It may not seem like much in the grand scheme of the economy, but the $575,000 that went toward the program in which Piette missed his chance to participate would have gone to something else — something that the economy considered to be more important.

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  • So true.

    If a product/industry requires a subsidy to be competitive with incumbents then subsidizing it is a waste of taxpayer money, and if the same product/industry doesn’t need a subsidy to compete then it is yet again a waste of taxpayer money.

    Hmmm… sounds like government subsidies are always a waste of taxpayer money no matter the circumstance.

    • Rhett Hardwick

      There entire thing is predicated on tremendous advances in battery life and capacity. There have been tremendous advances in the last few years. I have no idea where it is going.

      Meanwhile when the battery dies in a cordless tool, I find it more cost effective to replace the tool.

  • Guest

    State of Hawaii with the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative makes it clear by written law to all people the intent of the state is to reduce imported oil by 70% (40% renewable energy and 30% energy efficiency), currently 40% oil goes to power buildings and 30% to ground transportation, by year 2045 and changeover to 100% of electric power generated by clean green renewable alternate energy for buildings. Hawaii has no natural carbon based fuels and is the most imported oil dependent state in the nation. Reducing imported oil 70% will save the state $7 billion a year.

    The State of Hawaii and the Federal Government both have incentive programs that reduce the cost of owning an alternate energy vehicle thus reducing the high cost of imported oil into the state. The average daily miles driven in State of Hawaii is 30 miles per day and there are only so many miles in a straight line you can drive living on an island.

    The Federal Government will allow a one-time up to $7,500 maximum
    tax write-off on your IRS income tax only if you owe the government however if you owe $5,000 you can write-off $5,000 but the government will not write you a check for the extra $2,500 and there is no carry over into next year. This write-off expires after each of the vehicle manufactures sells their 200,000 total vehicle quota and the only one close to that is Tesla in 2018.

    The Hawaii state-wide incentive program is quite extensive applying only to vehicles issued an electric vehicle license plate in that it has been building a vehicle recharging infrastructure network throughout the state being
    powered by alternate renewable energy and is free to use (over 321 public chargers so far in Honolulu). Passed a law requiring stores and business with 100 parking spaces to install one electric charging stations for every 100 vehicles. Passed law allowing private vendors to install fee-for-service electric charging stations. Interfaced a map detailing where each charging station is located on Google Earth Maps with details. Passed law allowing Electric Vehicles to use HOV lanes during rush hours with only driver in vehicle; Electric Vehicles can park free at public municipal metered street or parking lot spaces; Electric Vehicles can park free in state or municipal parking lots or garages including long term at airport garages and passed a law allowing PUC approval for electric company to offer discounted electric rates for vehicle charging at home chargers.

    Once the funded state incentive program ended back in 2015 Hawaii no longer offered the $2,500 state incentive however, currently Hawaiian
    Electric Co. and Nissan North America are partnering to offer utility customers a $10,000 rebate off the manufacturer’s suggested retail price on the Nissan Leaf electric sedan at participating dealerships, the Honolulu-based utility said this week. Hawaiian Electric said that no ratepayer funds are being used for this rebate. All costs are being taken care of by Nissan North America.

    Combining the special rebate and $7,500 in federal tax incentives, utility customers could save up to $17,500. The 107-mile range 2017 Leaf, has a list price starting at $30,680.

    The average estimated cost of installing a Type 2 electric vehicle charger (220/240 volts) materials and labor is $1,100 to $1,200.

    Hawaii currently leads the nation in alternate energy vehicles per capita and ranks second only to California in number of alternate energy vehicles registered and on the road. The first electric vehicle driven on the streets of Honolulu was in 1899.