Biden promotes billions for electric vehicles but critics are wary

By Casey Harper | The Center Square

Electric vehicles’ biggest supporter of late has been President Joe Biden, who has stressed the vehicles as a central part of his efforts to address climate change. But critics question the economic and environmental impact of that transition.

Biden spoke at a Ford Motor electric vehicle plant in Michigan Tuesday to tout his $174 billion electric vehicle plan, which includes billions for charging stations and opening battery production facilities, as part of his effort to make electric vehicles a dominant part of America’s car manufacturing industry.

The plan comes as part of trillions of dollars in proposed tax hikes and spending increases to come out of the White House since January. Biden’s plan would spend $45 billion to convert buses, including school buses, to electric and set aside $15 billion to help fund a network of 500,000 charging stations.

Michael Bielawski/TNR

“While there is nothing wrong with increasing consumer choice by expanding the offering of electric vehicles, President Biden wants to spend hundreds of billions of tax dollars on cars very few Americans want,” said Ben Lieberman, an energy and environment expert at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

The plan would also begin transitioning federal agencies like the U.S. Postal Service to electric vehicles, and create incentives for manufacturers to create affordable electric vehicles.

Since his inauguration, Biden has stressed technological innovation and competition with other nations, particularly China, in green energy technology.

“Increasingly, the global market is shifting to electric vehicles … tapping into EVs’ potential to save families thousands of dollars, lower carbon pollution, and make the air we breathe cleaner,” the White House said in a statement. “Yet, despite pioneering the technology, the United States is behind in the race to manufacture these vehicles and the batteries that go in them.”

Critics pointed to the unintended consequences of the transition, saying it will hurt lower-income Americans more and that taxpayers will pay for it.

“EV subsidies are a giveaway to politically favored manufacturers and amounts to a highly regressive tax — forcing those who drive traditional gas-powered vehicles to shoulder the costs of highways and roads while EV drivers – a disproportionate number of whom are wealthy — literally get a free ride,” said Joel Griffith from the Heritage Foundation.

Anticipating concerns over economic impact, the White House has consistently messaged Biden’s “green” efforts as job creation plans.

“When I think of the climate crisis, I think of jobs,” Biden said. “If we act to save the planet we can create millions of jobs, generate significant economic growth, and raise the standard of living of people around the world.”

Critics also argue that American consumers have been slow to adopt electric vehicles and that the recent Colonial Pipeline hacking shows this is the time to be strengthening, not weakening, the nation’s oil and gas infrastructure.

“While there is nothing wrong with Ford Motor increasing consumer choice by expanding its offering of electric vehicles, President Biden wants to spend hundreds of billions of tax dollars on cars very few Americans want,” said Ben Lieberman, an energy and environment expert at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “In fact, he’s actually making life harder for the 97 percent who prefer gasoline and diesel powered cars and trucks. From restrictions on domestic oil production to the cancelled Keystone XL pipeline, his administration has committed to energy and climate policies that can only spell bad news in the years ahead.

“The recent Colonial Pipeline incident shows the importance of a robust domestic infrastructure for liquid fuels, but that is not what we will be getting from this President,” he added.

Despite not using a combustible engine, electric vehicles have faced criticism for their environmental impact. Critics point to the rare earth minerals mining needed for batteries and say the carbon emissions needed to manufacture the vehicles are often ignored.

“Electric vehicles are nowhere near as environmentally ‘friendly’ as proponents claim, assuming these environmentalists care about carbon emissions,” said Daniel Turner, founder of the energy workers advocacy group, Power the Future. “And with the federal government pouring money into companies like Tesla with tax breaks designed to boost sales, it’s more important than ever that we get to the truth. Strain on the electric grid, human rights abuses, environmental degradation are part of the electric vehicles’ legacy.

“America deserves an honest conversation before we, the taxpayers, subsidize the transition to electric vehicles,” he added.

Images courtesy of Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and Michael Bielawski/TNR

8 thoughts on “Biden promotes billions for electric vehicles but critics are wary

  1. If a large portion switched to ev, how many charging stations would be needed and would there not be long lines waiting to be charged. Not for me.


    VEIC performed an “on-paper” simulation to make the electric buses look much better than the diesel buses, because the Pilot Program revealed energy costs of the electric buses were significantly greater, 52 c/mile, than of the diesel buses, 32 c/mile.

    The aim of the “on-paper” simulation was to:

    – Reduce electric bus charging costs
    – Eliminate all demand charges

    This section shows all references to the VEIC “on-paper” simulation, including figure 18, should be deleted from the report, because the simulation led to at least 2 physical impossibilities!!

    Quote from VEIC report: Using a bus operating efficiency of 1.47 kWh/mile, the schools’ electric rates, hours of bus use, and mileage, VEIC was able to estimate the cost savings available if charging were to be managed to a minimum number of hours, outside of peak demand times. Bus total energy costs would have been $0.22 / mile and efficiency 1.47 kWh / mile, much closer to Lion bus purported operating efficiency of 1.3 – 1.4 kWh/mile.

    Lion states kWh DC/mile (energy in the battery), because Lion does not know how and where the buses would be operated, i.e., charging in cold climates and hilly terrain, such as New England, or charging in warm climates and level terrain, such as California.

    Vermont average winter temperature is about 22F, corresponding to about 1.390 kWh DC/mile. See figure 13 of URL
    SSI, BC, average winter temperature is about 45F, corresponding to about 1.325 kWh DC/mile.

    VEIC Error No. 1: The claim of having no demand charges is physically impossible

    The MA Pilot Program buses, with a cold climate, had a cost of electricity of $4,110 and demand of $2,608, a total of $6,718. See Note

    The VEIC “on-paper” simulation claimed, the buses would use only $2,561 of electricity, i.e., the buses would use $2561/ ($0.1285/kWh x 13902 miles) + 3.8 c/mile, cabin heating = 1.47 kWh AC/mile, which would reduce energy cost from 52 c/mile to a much more attractive 22 c/mile. See above quote, and pages 35, 36, 37 of URL

    However, the Lion buses of the SSI Program, with a mild climate, required a real-world 1.745 kWh AC/mile.

    The VEIC value is not just too low. It is a physical impossibility!!

    School buses, diesel or electric, are parked most of the time during a school day, and during Xmas vacation, Spring break, summer, 2 or 3-day weekends, and holidays. All-together, they are used about 5 h/d x 180d / 8766 h/y = 10.3% of the year.

    VEIC claimed no charging is required in New England, with a cold climate, during:

    1) Most of these idle hours, cold or not
    2) No charging during all peak demand hours, cold or not.

    This is contrary to SSI real-world experience, with a mild climate.

    The below italic quote, from the SSI report, shows a petition to eliminate demand charges for school buses to improve their economics. See URL

    Quote from SSI Report: British Columbia Hydro has filed an application with the BC Utilities Commission for a special rate for fleet charging. They are proposing to eliminate the demand charge for the Large General Service rate, which would reduce that cost of charging a school bus by as much as half depending on the power rating of the chargers used.

    If the SSI school district, with a mild climate, required charging of its Lion electric buses, during peak demand hours, for normal operations, why would VEIC make a risky assumption, all charging during peak demand hours would not be required in New England, with a cold climate?

    Interrupting the protection of $100,000 batteries is not an option, with a cold climate.
    See above Charging Electric Buses During Cold Daytimes and Night-times and SSI report.

    NOTE: Demand charges are imposed by a utility on users with high levels of consumption during a billing period.
    Pilot Program demand charges were 2608/(4110 + 2608) = 39% of the electricity bills. See page 35 of URL

    VEIC Error No. 2: The claim of 1.47 kWh AC/mile, with a mild or cold climate, is physically impossible!!

    Lion electric bus consumption is 1.3 to 1.4 kWh DC/mile, per Lion brochures.
    In cold-climate New England, the required consumption would be about 1.390 kWh DC/mile.
    In mild-climate SSI, the real-world consumption was 1.325 kWh DC/mile.

    VEIC claimed 1.47 kWh AC/mile, from wall outlet, would result in the required 1.390 kWh DC/mile, in the battery, i.e., a charging percent of 5.8%.

    That charging percent would be only 5.8/17.5 = 33% of the values of Teslas and other EVs!! See Note.

    That charging percent is not just too low. It is a physical impossibility!!

    See EV charging percent of four real-world examples in Appendix

    NOTE: The typical 17 to 18 charging percent of EV cars would not apply to school buses, because:

    1) They have idle-time of about 90% of the hours of a year, and would be parked outdoors,
    2) They are required to provide high reliability of service on Monday morning, even after they have been parked on Saturday and Sunday, especially during cold days.

    • So, after all of that, we should change the school year to start in March and end in November. Then the electric vehicles could remain idle for the coldest months of Nov, Dec & Jan.

      • Right, you are.

        Operating the buses from April to November would require less electricity than from September to June.

        VEIC had erroneously “assumed” electricity consumption in a cold climate, as in New England, to be less than in a mild climate, as on Spring Island in BC, to make the NE school buses look extra good compared to diesel, essentially to dupe Legislators.

        Those kind of lies lead Legislators to start heavily subsidized, expensive government programs that in the end do not reduce CO2.

        Of course, by that time, various insiders have enriched themselves, at the expense of all others.


    The electric bus pilot program was funded by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) with about $2 million, and administered by the Massachusetts State Department of Energy Resources. Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, VEIC, performed the evaluation of the program. Three Lion electric buses were operated by the school districts of Amherst, Concord, and Cambridge from the Fall of 2016 to early 2018

    The capital cost at each site was $327,500 for the bus, plus about $25,000 for single-direction, Level 2 charger.

    There are other balance-of-plant costs for a complete electric bus system, but they were ignored. For example, the capital cost of parking facilities with chargers for an electric bus system is much greater than diesel bus system

    Cold Climate Penalty

    The MA buses, with a cold climate, required 1.890/1.745 = 8.3% more electricity from the wall outlet to have 1.390/1.325 = 4.3% more electricity in the battery than the SSI buses, with a mild climate, to travel the same distance.

    Table 2 shows: 1) the draw of kWh AC/mile, from wall meter, 2) the resulting “in battery” kWh DC/mile, and 3) the charging ratio for an EV car and 3 electric school buses.

    The MA column is presented to continue the above SSI and MA comparison.

    The MA column mimics the professional level of operation of the SSI system.

    The MA Pilot Program was poorly executed, due largely to uncontrolled/haphazard charging, which greatly increased electricity consumption. It would have been prudent to have had all three buses at one location, instead of one bus at each of three locations.


    Electric school buses are beginning to be adopted by a few US school districts as part of reducing CO2.
    The main impetus is “free” Volkswagen Settlement funds, and “free” federal COVID funds, to provide “free” electric school buses to school districts.

    Electric school buses have significantly less O&M costs than diesel buses.
    However, that reduction is minuscule, compared with amortizing the turnkey capital cost of the buses

    O&M operating data of electric school buses have been insufficient to perform any analysis, except for a few cases, such as on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada, and in Massachusetts, New England

    It was fortunate to have data for SSI, with a mild climate and MA, with a cold climate, to show the impact of climate on school bus performance and O&M expenses.

    The SSI data includes diesel and electric bus maintenance costs, which were prorated to complete the MA data.
    The travel was assumed at 12,000 miles per year, the US average for school buses.

    The SSI project involved 10 Lion electric school buses.
    Turnkey CAPEX; Can $4.375 million, or US $3.5 million
    Travel for all buses; 139,345 km, or 87,091 miles, or 8,709 miles/bus

    The MA project involved 3 Lion electric school buses
    Turnkey CAPEX; $1.05 million
    Travel for all buses; 13,902 miles, or 4,634 miles/bus

    O&M Cost Reduction per Bus

    Diesel bus maintenance for US and Canada = 23 c/mile
    Electric bus maintenance for US and Canada = 6.4 c/mile.

    Electricity, energy, commercial/institutional rate; 13 c//kWh, per VEIC
    Electricity demand, controlled charging, assumed for SSI at 25%, and for MA at 30%, of energy cost

    Lion bus electricity consumption is 1.3 to 1.4 kWh DC/mile, per Lion Corporation literature.

    SSI electric buses averaged 1.745 kWh AC/mile, from the wall outlet, to have 1.325 kWh DC/mile in the battery (near the low end of the Lion range); mild climates require less electricity/mile. See Note

    MA electric buses would require 1.890 kWh AC/mile, from the wall outlet, to have 1.390 kWh DC/mile in the battery (near the high end of the Lion range); cold climates require greater electricity/mile.
    A separate fuel oil-fired heating system is required for cabin heating, which emits CO2. See Note

    MA diesel bus mileage; 6.3 mpg, cold climate, per VEIC
    SSI diesel bus mileage; 1.15 x 6.3 = 7.25 mpg; mild climates have better mpg and require minimal, or no, cabin heating

    SSI electricity cost = 1.745 kWh AC/mile x 13 c/mile = 2722, energy + 0.25 x 2722, demand = US $3,403/y, or 28.4 c/mile
    SSI electric bus total cost = 6.4, maintenance + 28.4, electricity = 34.8 c/mile; no cabin heating.
    SSI diesel bus total cost = 23, maintenance + 34.5, fuel = 57.5 c/mile
    SSI cost reduction per bus = 57.5 – 34.8 = 22.8 c/mile, or $2,732/y

    Amortizing the capital cost difference; ($352,500 – $100,000) at 3.5%/y for 15 years = $21,661/y, or 180.1 c/mile, about 7.9 times the annual cost reduction!!

    MA electricity cost = 1.890 kWh AC/mile x 13 c/kWh = 2948 + 0.30 x 2948, demand = US $3,833/y, or 31.9 c/mile
    MA electric bus cabin heating cost; 12000 miles x 1 gal/78 miles x $2.93/gal = 3.8 c/mile
    MA electric bus total cost = 6.4, maintenance + 31.9, electricity + 3.8, cabin heating = 42.1 c/mile
    MA diesel bus total cost = 23, maintenance + 39.7, fuel = 62.7 c/mile
    MA cost reduction per bus = 62.7 – 42.1 = 20.6 c/mile, or $2,470/y

    Amortizing the capital cost difference ($352,500 – $100,000) at 3.5%/y for 15 years = $21,661/y, or 180.1 c/mile, about 8.8 times the annual cost reduction per bus!!

  5. Lifetime, A-to-Z Analysis Includes Combustion, Upstream, Embodied and Downstream CO2

    A much more realistic CO2-reduction analysis would be on a lifetime, A-to-Z basis.
    Such analyses have been performed for at least 20 years. Engineers are very familiar with them. They would include:

    1) Upstream CO2 of energy for extraction, processing and transport to a user
    2) Embodied CO2 of expensive batteries, from extraction of materials to installation in a bus
    3) Embodied CO2 of $352,500 electric buses vs $100,000 diesel buses
    4) Embodied CO2 of balance-of-system components
    5) Embodied CO2 of much more expensive electric bus parking facilities, with a Level 2 charger for each bus, than for a diesel bus parking facility with a diesel pump.
    6) Downstream CO2 of disposal of batteries, etc.

    Any CO2 advantage of electric buses vs diesel buses would be less, on a lifetime, A-to-Z basis.
    The cost of CO2 reduction would increase from $2,076/metric ton to about $2,500/Mt.

    Vehicle-to-Grid Operation

    Proponents of VtG claim electric school buses could be used by utilities, to have the batteries absorb a fraction of midday solar bulges, and deliver that electricity, minus about 20% losses, to the gid during late afternoon/early evening, when peak demands are occurring, and solar has gone to sleep until mid-morning the next day.

    As part of managing midday-solar DUCK curves, 10 electric school buses, capital cost at least $3.5 million, already partially charged, would absorb 500 kWh during midday and discharge 400 kWh from 5 pm to 8 pm (peak demand hours). See Note.

    The $100,000 batteries, part of a $325,000 electric school bus, would have extra wear and tear, which would shorten their 15-year lives. This is like doing yardwork in a tuxedo.
    A utility could purchase a 600-kWh battery system, for a turnkey cost of about $450,000, and achieve the same results.

    NOTE: For long life, say 15 years, Li-ion batteries should not be discharged to less than 20%, and not be charged in excess of 80%, per Battery University, which would limit VtG “benefits” of electric school buses and regular EVs. That range also happens to have the highest efficiency. See URLs


    China, India, New England and Vermont

    Electric bus proponents often point to China to advance their interests, i.e., sell more electric buses
    China has made electric buses and EVs in urban areas a priority to reduce its well-known excessive air pollution, due to: 1) using a lot of coal in dirty, inefficient power plants, and 2) vastly increased vehicle traffic in urban complexes with 15 to 30 million people each.

    India has a China pollution problem, but not China’s money and work ethic, i.e., few electric vehicles.
    Those two countries emit about 45 – 50% of all world pollution and GHG.

    The US has much less of a pollution problem than China, except in its larger urban areas.
    The US uses more domestic gas and much less coal, and nuclear is still around.

    New England has a pollution problem in its southern urban areas.

    Vermont, known for its cleaner air, has a minor pollution problem in Burlington and some of its other urban areas, i.e., no need to use scare-mongering to rush into expensively advancing Montpelier’s electric school bus goals.

    Governor and Senators Seeking More Electric Vehicles and Buses with Federal COVID Money

    The energy priorities of New England governments are driven by a self-serving cabal of RE folks. All is decided at high levels. Ordinary people rarely participate during government hearings, except those pre-selected to say the right things.

    The cabal has powerful allies on Wall Street, which is molding the minds of people by means of generous donations to universities and think tanks. Here is an example of the resulting double-speak:

    Vermont’s Governor: “Investing in more energy-efficient public transportation is important for our economy and environment,” the governor said. He added that the COVID money is enabling the transportation agency to replace as many as 30 buses and fund energy-efficient projects.”

    NOTE: Each $325,000 electric school bus reduces CO2 by about 10 metric ton/y, compared to a $100,000 diesel bus. Vermont has much better CO2 reduction options. See Appendix.

    The Vermont House Energy/Environment Committee, the VT Transportation Department, VEIC, EAN, etc., echo the same message, to “convince” legislators, people in the Governor’s Office, and Vermonters, to use COVID money and Volkswagen Settlement money to buy expensive electric buses to deal with a minor pollution problem in a few urban areas in Vermont.

    Such an electric vehicle measure would be much more appropriate in the over-crowded, down-town Boston Area and the Connecticut Gold Coast.

    The cabal urge Vermonters to buy electric buses at about:

    $750,000 – $1,000,000 per mass-transit bus, plus high-speed charging systems.
    A standard diesel mass-transit bus costs $380,000 – $420,000

    $330,000 – $375,000, per school bus, plus high-speed charging systems.
    A standard diesel/gasoline school bus costs about $100,000

    “Free” Federal COVID Money for Expensive Electric School Buses

    The Governor and bureaucrats are throwing COVID money, meant for suffering households and businesses, into another climate-fighting black hole.

    Spending huge amounts of capital on various projects that yield minor reductions in CO2, is a recipe for low economic efficiency, and for low economic growth, on a state-wide and nation-wide scale, which would adversely affect state and US competitiveness in markets, and adversely affect living standards and job creation.

    Costs of Government RE Programs

    Vermont’s government engaging in electric bus demonstration programs, financed with COVID money, likely would prove to be expensive undertakings, requiring hidden subsidies, white-washing and obfuscation.

    Lifetime spreadsheets, with 1) turnkey capital costs, 2) annual cashflows, 3) annual energy cost savings, 4) annual CO2 reductions, and 5) cost of CO2 reduction/metric ton, with all assumptions clearly stated and explained, likely will never see the light of day.

    Including Amortizing Capital Cost for a Rational Approach to Projects

    RE proponents do not want to include amortizing costs, because it makes the financial economics of their dubious climate projects appear dismal. This is certainly the case with expensive electric buses. If any private-enterprise business were to ignore amortizing costs, it would be out of business in a short time, per Economics 101

    Capital cost of electric bus, plus charger, $327,500 + $25,000 = $352,500
    Battery system cost, $100,000, for a 60 to 80-mile range.
    Capital cost of diesel bus, $100,000
    Additional capital cost, 352500 – 100000 = $252,500
    Travel, 12,000 miles/y, the average of diesel school buses in Vermont.

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