About Air and Water

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Austin plug-in car initiative gains speed in Congress

Doggett bill providing incentives gets committee approval
By Allison Becker - Austin American-Statesman Washington Bureau - Thursday, June 21, 2007

WASHINGTON — An Austin-based effort to popularize plug-in hybrid vehicles got a boost from Congress on Wednesday when a House committee approved a bill introduced by Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, to provide tax incentives for buyers.

The measure would offer tax credits of $4,000 to $6,000 to purchasers of new plug-ins.
The vehicles carry batteries that can be charged in ordinary electrical outlets and gasoline engines for use when the batteries run down.

Plug-ins are set to hit the U.S. market in 2009 when GM plans to introduce a plug-in Saturn Vue.

The vehicles can go up to 40 miles before switching to gasoline-powered engines.

The legislation, which Doggett introduced March 6, was incorporated by the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee into a bill to encourage conservation and use of renewable energy. It is the first plug-in legislation to receive committee approval, by a vote of 24-16.
"Incentives can be critically important to speeding up the timetable for when plug-ins will be commercially available," said Austin Mayor Will Wynn in a statement.

Austin's Plug-in Partners initiative, a national movement backed by Austin Energy, seeks to persuade automakers to manufacture electric cars.

More than 500 consumer groups and a majority of the 50 largest cities have committed to the effort, said Roger Duncan, deputy general manager of Austin Energy.

More than 11,000 people and organizations have expressed interest in purchasing the vehicles when they reach the market, Duncan said.

Plug-in advocates say it takes less than $1 to purchase the electricity required to power a plug-in vehicle as far as it would go on a gallon of gasoline. "This bill takes decisive action to make the next generation of hybrid vehicles widely accessible to consumers," Doggett said in a statement.
"It will help us move from fossilized ideas of our energy past to the renewable promise of our energy future."

The bill would provide a $4,000 tax credit for any plug-in. The credit could be increased by up to $2,000 for a larger battery.

Plug-ins would not qualify for the $2,000 Clean Fuel Vehicle tax credit available to buyers of the Toyota Prius, Honda Insight and other vehicles that have gasoline engines and electric motors operating on generator-charged batteries.

Skeptics say plug-ins could harm the environment, arguing that sulfur dioxide and mercury emissions would increase the burden on electric power plants.
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Travel to other worlds ... UTA Planetarium

Immersive full-dome 3-D Digital planetarium show narrated by Ewan McGregor (Obi wan Kepobi from Star Wars) - Astronaut takes you exporing the worlds of inner and outer space. The movie is projected all around you. You recline in specially constructed chairs which enables you to comfortably view the immersive full-dome planetarium show. Astronaut! (produced from the National Space Centre in England) goes beyond the stereotypical space movie. Experience a rocket launch from inside the body of the astronaut. Float around the international Space Station moving thorugh the microscopic regions of the human body! Discover the beauty and perils as "Chad", the test astronaut experiences everything thrown at him.

Summer Schedule (June 2-August 26):


shows at the UTA Planetarium.

Wed. through Saturdays at 11 a.m.
and Thursday at 7:00 p.m.

Cosmic CSI

shows at the UTA Planetarium 3-D Digital Dome.

Wed. through Saturdays at 2 p.m.

Rock Hall of Fame 1 (The Original)

shows at the UTA Planetarium.

Thursday at 8:00 p.m.

Read more (Warning their flat dull website doesn't give much of a glimmer of the multi-dimensional experience you'll have once you enter the dome of the UTA Planetarium!)

Admission: Adults: $5.00

Seniors, Students, Children: $4.00

UTA Faculty, Staff & Alumni (with ID): $3.00

UTA Studens (with ID): $2.00

Groups of 10 or more with reservation: $3.00

Call 817 272-1183 or e-mail planetarium@uta.edu