Who needs more roads when you can have more electric-car charging stations? A new federal grant is set to build more charging stations along the I-35 corridor in Central Texas at the same time lawmakers in Texas are voicing concerns about lack of gas tax revenue from those same vehicles.

The Texas River Cities initiative announced Tuesday that they would be the recipients of a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The TRC includes electricity providers from Williamson to Bexar counties, including Austin Energy.

A statement taken from TRC’s infrastructure readiness plan says that, “Rapidly maturing technologies and decreasing costs foreshadow the coming to market of electric vehicles.” Replacing the words ‘decreasing costs’ with ‘government subsidies’ would be a more apt description of the saga of electric cars that taxpayers have watched unfold through the following examples:

  • Austin Energy offered rebates (read, subsidies) of $1,500 to homeowners who installed charging stations at their homes.
  • The City of San Antonio built six, only six, charging stations paid for by a $10,000 grant from the Department of Energy.
  • The City of San Antonio was also working on a plan to offer rebates (again, subsidies) to homeowners for installing home charging stations.

Plain and simple, without subsidies, a market for electric cars would not exist. Obviously, Austin and San Antonio set themselves apart as lead writers in the story of the electric car race-to-nowhere while there are only estimated to be about 150 electric cars in all of Austin and 50 in all of San Antonio.

But with the federal government swooping in to change the market, you can expect those numbers to grow — much to the chagrin of some Texas lawmakers who point to the fact that the state gets less revenue for roads from full-efficient vehicles (and none at all from electric vehicles.)

Instead of pouring money into a market that clearly isn’t there yet, maybe the government should put that money towards something all taxpayers benefit from – more roads.

Image Source: Flickr Creative Commons


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