Power & Pipes

FERC, CFTC, and State Energy Law Developments

A bipartisan group of US senators recently proposed legislation intended to broadly address electric vehicle (EV) fleet management, as both the federal government and the private sector continue adopting EV use at an unprecedented rate in the US market.

Co-sponsored by Gary Peters (D-MI), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Richard Burr (R-NC), and Bill Hagerty (R-TN), the Strategic EV Management Act of 2022 (S. 4057) would develop a management strategy for the growing federal EV fleet. In fiscal year 2020, the federal fleet contained 3,170 EVs (including more than 2,400 vehicles at the US Department of Defense alone) with agencies acquiring an average of 350 EVs per year.

EV fleets require special management consideration because of the central role batteries play in their mechanics. Two key EV management considerations include battery care and the reuse or recycling of degraded batteries. Proper battery care is important in order to prolong the life of the EV—and thereby maximize the government’s investments in these vehicles.

Managing degraded batteries is important for responsible EV use. Reusing and recycling EV batteries will create an opportunity for the government to generate value from an expended resource while simultaneously furthering environmental and strategic aims.

S. 4057 would require the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to coordinate with the heads of agencies to devise a comprehensive, strategic plan for federal EV fleet battery management. With an aim toward maximizing environmental and cost efficiencies, the guidance will include instructions for optimal charging practices to increase battery longevity as well as guidelines for reusing and recycling retired vehicle batteries. In developing the guidance, the GSA and OMB may consult with appropriate entities including the US Department of Energy and other experts.

The bill requires that the GSA and OMB submit a report that describes their strategic guidance within three years from the date of the bill’s enactment. Further, four years after enactment, the GSA and OMB are required to provide a briefing on implementing the strategic plan to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Oversight and Reform of the House of Representatives.

Although it remains to be seen whether or when the US Senate might further consider S. 4057, its introduction is noteworthy for at least two primary reasons.

First, the bipartisan nature of S. 4057 makes clear that the federal government perceives EV growth to be a critical component of the country’s future, and one that warrants support and attention from government officials irrespective of party status.

Second, S. 4057 is yet another way for the federal government to support EV growth, building on the Biden-Harris administration’s recent invocation of the Defense Production Act to support battery development in the US market, and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, enacted in November 2021, which appropriates $7.5 billion in federal funding to develop publicly available chargers and several more billion dollars to support EV battery manufacturing in the US market.