Less than two weeks after this column exposed a situation where tens of millions of state tax dollars were given to billion-dollar corporations —- but only with approval from other billion-dollar corporations —- the California Energy Commission suddenly ended that practice.
In a message sent late May 25, the commission said it "is canceling its grant solicitation for hydrogen fueling stations in order to revise solicitation protocols. The commission will issue a new solicitation at a future date."
The grants, funded by vehicle license fees under a 2007 law authored by former Democratic Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and signed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, amounted to $15 million in 2010, with an additional $12 million winning tentative approval in April. Those grants have now been canceled.
The grants are designed to encourage construction of refueling stations for hydrogen fuel cell cars that are due to hit showrooms by 2017. These will be built by eight automakers:Nissan, Toyota, Honda, GM, Chrysler, Volkswagen, Daimler and Hyundai.
The Energy Commission's Schwarzenegger-era policy was to require that at least one automaker approve any refueling location before a grant application could even be considered.