2019 Leg Session, Columnists, Energy, Featured, Gold Dome, Jon Caldara, Politics, Uncategorized

Caldara: ‘Progressives’ subsidize well-off electric car buyers, pad Xcel’s bottom line

Trust me, I’m as tired of writing about how appalling the last legislative session was as you are reading me whine about it. But the hits just keep coming.

What amazes me the most about the progressive takeover of Colorado is how much of it is blatant corporatism disguised as virtue-signaling. Here’s a fine example. This week our “libertarian” governor signed a package of bills to give even more subsidies to electric cars owners and large corporations.

First, let me say that electric vehicles have a bright future and will likely become the majority of cars people buy in the future. And that will happen without the massive, social engineering and insane corporate welfare being thrown at the industry.

The government doesn’t need to brow-beat us into adopting new technologies. We all now carry super-computers in our pockets and government didn’t need to give rich people a tax credit to buy an iPhone over their old flip phone.

Colorado gives one of the nation’s largest cash handouts to rich guys to buy Teslas. I can say “rich” because according to the state’s own research most people who get the “Electric Vehicle Tax Credit” make at least $100,000 a year, have a bachelor’s degree and own two or more vehicles.

House Bill 1159 extends the state’s tax credit for electric vehicles for several years, continuing the practice of giving people who don’t need it thousands of dollars in direct cash to buy their electric playthings.

This is an upward wealth transfer. Working Colorado families pay taxes to subsidize the well-to-do’s consumerism; a true progressive value if ever there was one. Colorado-for-all, ya know.

But what good is a new Telsa if you can’t plug it in? Fortunately, Xcel Energy, which is equally adept at manipulating Democrat majorities at the state Capitol as it is Republican majorities, has scored again.

Senate Bill 77 allows power utilities like Xcel to build charging stations and only the people charging their cars at the station will pay the cost. Nah, I’m just joking. SB-77 allows Xcel to do what Xcel does best — fleece their captive customers for the benefit of a politically-connected few.

The cost to create new charging stations will be “rate-based” meaning, again, working families will pay higher electric bills so that Xcel can build and operate charging stations to benefit the well-heeled guy who just got a cash subsidy to buy his new electric car.

A charging station is the fuel equivalent to a gas station, or so the thinking goes. If we have EV fueling stations around like gas stations, then folks can drive farther away from home like they do with their gas car (remember most all EV owners have a gas-powered car too).

So, let’s run with the gas station analogy. We seem to have all the gas stations we need. But the government didn’t build them! Xcel didn’t build them. Working people were not taxed (or rate-based) to build gas stations.

If there is a growing demand for electric stations, like the corporatists at the capitol say, the same type of investors will take the risk and build them, without stealing the money of poor people to do it.

Of course, you can’t gas up your gasoline-powered car at home, but you can charge your electric car. So, EV’s already have quite a fueling advantage.

EV owners also get the best parking spots. If a guy with money can’t bribe his doctor into giving him a handicapped-parking placard, buying a Telsa is the next best thing.

Stores, schools, offices, and of course government buildings exercise virtue-signaling by giving preferential parking to electric vehicles, often along with “free” electric fuel. House Bill 1298 punishes those lowly gasoline-sucking drivers who find the only open parking space a charging spot for the elite.
HB-1298 puts a $150 fine, plus a $32 surcharge, to the bumkin who parked his reviled gas car in the privileged spot. Those undesirables, with their poor-man gas cars, should be parking in the back anyway. We have an image to uphold.

For a bunch of people who claim they care about working Coloradans, the progressives in power sure like to take care of their friends first.

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.

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