We thought our readers might be interested in some short discussions of the differences and similarities between key ARRA provisions and related pieces of the Senate and House energy bills now moving through the legislative process. We’ll be doing a series of these. Short and sweet. Our first effort focuses on policy related to the infrastructure needed to support deployment of electric vehicles.

The ARRA provided billions of dollars worth of support for electric vehicles. But it offered relatively little in the way of financial incentives for the deployment of infrastructure on which those vehicles depend. True, the ARRA increased the rate and size of federal tax credits for "alternative fuel vehicle refueling properties," such as charging stations and battery exchange locations. But in relative or absolute terms, the tax credit program is a mere drop in the federal stimulus bucket.

In recent weeks, however, there have been signs that a more significant federal commitment to electric vehicle infrastructure may be just around the corner. The energy and climate legislation reported by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, H.R. 2454 -- the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, contains several provisions designed to promote infrastructure for electric vehicles. Those provisions include a series of PURPA amendments that would impose electric vehicle infrastructure responsibilities on utilities and their state regulators, funding for projects capable of promoting large-scale regional deployment, and incentives for manufacturing electric vehicles and infrastructure. The current discussion draft of the Senate's energy bill contains considerably less detail, but it too allows for the possibility of considerable direct federal support for electric vehicle infrastructure deployment.