Biden’s expected Energy Department pick, Granholm, could lead charge on electric cars

WASHINGTON/DETROIT (Reuters) – When Jennifer Granholm was governor of auto-manufacturing Michigan, she led a charge that secured a whopping $1.35 billion in federal funding for companies to make electric cars and batteries in her state.

As President-elect Joe Biden’s expected energy secretary, Granholm now faces a bigger task: making good on his campaign promise to help the United States compete with China on electric vehicles (EVs) as part of a $2 trillion plan to fight climate change.

Biden has said China was set to dramatically outpace the United States in EV production. But the United States, he said after the Nov. 3 election, could “own” the market with the right green policies. He has promised to build 550,000 EV charging stations and create over 1 million jobs by investing in clean energy research.

His transition team did not respond to a request for comment on how Granholm, who sources said on Tuesday would be nominated by Biden, would push EVs.

To do so, Biden’s administration will need to coax a closelydivided Congress to approve tax credits and billions of dollars more in stimulus funding. The Democratic president-elect takes office on Jan. 20.

Joe Britton, executive director of the Zero Emission Transportation Association, or ZETA, was optimistic that Granholm, who got green initiatives done in Rust-Belt Michigan, could make a difference.

“If we cultivate the electric vehicle sector, we can create hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs and Governor Granholm has been a key advocate in driving that economic development,” he said.

ZETA, a group of 28 car and utility companies, including Tesla Inc, PG&E Corp and Southern Co, was launched last month to lobby for EV-friendly policies

The Energy Department under Granholm, who would need Senate confirmation, could play a critical role in deploying advanced vehicle, battery and supply chain manufacturing, Britton said. Read More

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