Electricity

Expert Voices

A mileage-based tax could rescue the Highway Trust Fund

Illustration of an electric car charging pump with a dollar bill as the prong.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Highway Trust Fund, which finances road repairs, construction, and more, is paid for by the federal fuel tax — but will need a new funding model as EVs proliferate, because EV owners won't pay for fuel.

Why it matters: For years, the Highway Trust Fund has barely avoided bankruptcy, saved by marginal increases in vehicle miles driven and by cash infusions. This system will be unsustainable if EVs continue to grow in popularity.

Expert Voices

Summer price spikes are a feature of Texas' power market, not a bug

electric transformers next to an office building
Transformers at an electrical substation in Houston. Photo: George Rose/Getty Images

Demand for air conditioning across Texas helped drive wholesale electricity prices to the market cap of $9,000/MWh earlier this week, testing both the grid's capacity and the public's response to price spikes under the state's wholesale electricity market.

The big picture: ERCOT, the grid operator for most of Texas, operates an “energy-only” market that pays power plants only when they produce energy, and not merely for being available to do so. Many ERCOT plants thus rely on high-priced scarcity events to stay profitable in the otherwise low-cost grid, where prices are kept down by cheap natural gas prices and, to a lesser extent, renewables.