Energy Bill Becomes LawPosted 9/18/2005
By Robert L. Redding, Jr.
President George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 in New Mexico on Aug. 8. Pete V. Domenici, R-N.M., U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chairman, was with the president at the signing ceremony.
Domenici said, "America now has a new energy law that will stabilize prices, help us conserve more energy and encourage the production and use of renewable energy. It will better protect our environment and address climate change by encouraging emission-free nuclear power. Finally, the law's new efficiency standards mean we will be using less energy five and 10 years from now than we would have otherwise."
Of importance to the independent repair industry is the emphasis placed on clean engine and clean fuel technologies. Title VII of the legislation focuses on vehicles and fuels. The Automotive Service Association has been very involved, at the state level, in the warranty issues surrounding partial low emissions vehicle policy. Most recently in the state of Washington, the concept of the super warranty for these lower-emitting vehicles was the most contentious item for our industry. Congress devoted an entire title to this most important issue.
In summary, the Vehicles and Fuels Title:
Advocates of state-based low-emission vehicle programs have reported that these programs will move 50-plus percent of the vehicle marketplace, in those states, to low emission usage by 2010. The new Energy Bill calls for a report from the U.S. Department of Energy, within 180 days, about the development of alternative fueled vehicle technology, the availability of that technology in the market and the cost of alternative vehicles. This report should be important information as the repair industry develops strategies for the future.
Two of the most important pieces to low-emission vehicle policy have been the warranties proposed by states following California's model and how independent repair technicians can receive the most up-to-date training for these newer vehicles. ASA has focused on the super warranty issue in these state policy processes and has been working with the automakers on improving training opportunities for independent repair technicians. The National Automotive Service Task Force has proven to be the best conduit for training policy discussions with the automakers.
Subtitle B, Hybrid Vehicles, Advanced Vehicles and Fuel Cell Buses, contains language directing the secretary of energy to "accelerate efforts directed toward the improvement of batteries and other rechargeable energy storage systems, power electronics, hybrid systems integration, and other technologies for use in hybrid vehicles."
This section continued with a directive to the Department of Energy to establish a program to encourage domestic production and sales of efficient hybrid and advanced diesel vehicles. This includes grants to automakers encouraging domestic production of efficient hybrid and advanced diesel systems. One of the more interesting provisions allows for grants to state and local governments for the acquisition of alternative fueled vehicles, fuel cell vehicles or hybrid vehicles including:
As these new technologies increase their position in the marketplace, it is important that ASA continues to ensure a level playing field in regard to the repair and training opportunities for independents.
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