Electric-car charging stations may be coming to the U.S. Senate garage, under a bill passed yesterday on a bipartisan basis.

But fear not, zealous guardians of the sacred taxpayer dollar--no public funds will be used for the installation.

Yesterday, S.739 was passed by the Senate. The bill had been introduced in April 2011 earlier this month by Sen. Carl Levin [D-MI] and cosponsored by his fellow senator Debbie Stabenow [D-MI].

The text of the bill authorizes the "Architect of the Capitol to establish battery recharging stations for privately owned vehicles in parking areas under the jurisdiction of the Senate at no net cost to the Federal Government."

The stations can be used by any Senate employee and anyone authorized to park in the Senate garage.

But fees will be charged to cover not only the cost of the electricity but also those expenses associated with planning and overseeing the installation of the charging stations by one or more private vendors.

One of the bill's lengthiest sections is entitled "AVOIDING SUBSIDIES."

Annual reports on the financial operations of the charging stations are required.

Every three years, the Capitol architect's office must submit an analysis determining "whether Senators and covered employees using battery charging stations as authorized by this Act are receiving a subsidy from the taxpayers."

If any subsidies are identified, that office must submit a plan on how the program will be updated to ensure no subsidy is provided--including hikes in rates and fees.

Though as our colleague Juan Barnett (aka DC Auto Geek) notes, "Capitol Hill offers free Metro fare to employees that choose to travel via electric rail – so I ask, “why drive in the first place?”


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