Industry experts: Legislature must support, not undermine Michigan's alternative fuel vehicles
Alternative fuel vehicles are smart investments in Michigan's economic recovery and environmental protection, several presenters said at a legislative luncheon hosted by the Michigan Environmental Council and the Clean Energy Coalition in the State Capitol.
The presenters encouraged Michigan legislators to position our state as a leader in clean automotive technologies. Propane was heavily endorsed as a cost-effective, safe, and low-maintenance fuel for both small business and industry fleets. Electric vehicles were presented as a fast-growing and viable option. Key issues raised by presenters included return on investment, risk mitigation, local permitting, and incentives.
David Rhoa, President of Lake Michigan Mailers, Inc., spoke for all presenters when he appealed to legislators in the room to take a leadership role in supporting the alternative fuel vehicle industry.
To realize this opportunity, Michigan can look to other states that have impressive incentive programs. Illinois offers rebates of up to $4,000 for new or converted alternative fuel vehicles; Virginia is transitioning its State vehicles to alternative fuels; and Florida offers biofuel investment tax credits, natural gas and propane vehicle rebates and attractive electric vehicle supply equipment financing. Michigan can regain its competitiveness in the alternative fuel industry by following these state's leads.
At the same time, Michigan cannot afford to pass legislation that could hinder the growth of the alternative fuel industry, such as past efforts to raise registration taxes on hybrid or electric vehicles. These vehicles only amount to less than one percent of all registered vehicles, would likely amount to a minimal recovery of transportation funds, and would essentially punish clean automotive technologies. Michigan needs to avoid legislation of this type, and encourage rebate and incentive programs that will establish the state as a leader in the alternative fuel vehicle industry.