The big boys at a number of utility companies are considering ordering thousands of electric cars — the plug-in kind — to jump-start the auto industry into making them. The vehicles they’re interested in would run on batteries recharged from a common household outlet, with a gas alternative to extend the distance they can travel.
Power companies are in a unique position to make this happen. They own tens of thousands of company vehicles, so they can make a significant order — significant enough to gain the U.S. auto manufacturers’ attentions, and give them a possible out of their financial woes in the bargain.
It IS a noble pursuit, and one we would all benefit from. By recharging the cars during off-peak times (at night), the electric company gains, and we pay less than prime rates for the electricity. The electric company stands to gain, we stand to save, and the carbon footprint gets a lot smaller very quickly. No facts or figures to back this part up, but it stands to reason that the Grid is going to be a more efficient generator than everyone driving around with his or her own power plant. Electric vehicles also save by not having an engine running at idle.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory determined that 73% of the nation’s passenger and light-weight trucks could be recharged with the existing electrical infrastructure, providing that the vehicles were plugged in overnight to take advantage of off-peak hours. This could offset some 6,200,000 barrels of oil a day on average, which is approximately 52% of our current oil imports.
Another study, this one from the Electric Power Research Institute in conjunction with the Natural Resources Defense Council, determined that 60% of U.S. cars and light trucksgoing electric by 2050 would increase electricity consumption by under 8%, a pittance, really. Meanwhile, total U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions would be cut by at least 450 million metric tons per year, the equivalent of removing 82,000,000 cars from the streets. This is conservative, as non-fossil-fuel energy sources are bound to increase as well, cutting the carbon footprint even more dramatically.
Clearly, this is a feasible solution, something we can do sooner, rather than later. With the cooperative order of the electric companies, a $15,000 new electric car could be in our futures before the beginning of the coming decade.
Companies involved in these talks include Xcel Energy Inc., Progress Energy, PG&E Corp., Edison International, Wisconsin Energy Corp. and others. Please contact them and let them know that you appreciate and support their taking such a responsible position in leading the way towards energy solutions.