The Austin plan, viewed as a model that will be used by communities across the country, includes:
* An Austin City Council resolution supporting the mass production of plug-in hybrid vehicles.
* Local seed money from electric utilities (Austin Energy will provide $1 million) to help local governments, businesses and the public purchase an initial round of plug-ins.
* Commitments for fleet orders by the City of Austin, Travis County, other local governmental agencies and businesses.
* A grassroots petition drive to collect signatures from citizens encouraging automakers to mass-produce plug-in hybrids
"Plug-in hybrids can help significantly address two very serious problems facing communities and our country," said Mayor Will Wynn. "The over-reliance of America on oil imports and the need to improve air quality in our cities by reducing pollution from automobiles."
The appeal of plug-in vehicles is underscored by the fact that 78 percent of Americans live within 20 miles of their jobs. A battery pack sufficient to power a vehicle a distance of 35 miles on a charge would mean a majority of Americans would likely need to fill up with gasoline only once or twice a month. In addition, an "electric" gallon of gas would cost 70 to 80 cents at prevailing electric rates. A plug-in hybrid that gets 25 miles on a gallon of $2.55-national-average gasoline could travel more than 100 miles on $2.55 worth of "electric" gallons of energy.
Two interesting excerpts taken from the PlugInAustin.org FAQ:
How would PHEVs impact the national economy?
A 2002 EPRI study indicated that if 25% of Americans drove PHEVs by 2025, there would be an $88 billion net annual economic benefit. This would include a $26 billion decrease in the U.S. trade deficit, $7.5 billion saved due to "oil disruptions" that lead to increased gasoline costs, plus the projected creation of over 400,000 jobs.
Won't power plants create a great deal of additional pollution powering PHEVs?
Pollution is easier to manage at a central point such as the stacks of power plants rather than from millions of vehicle tail pipes. Many power plants today are being modified to lower emissions and a number of older plants are being retired. Wind-generated power, solar and other forms of renewable energy are pollution free and are becoming more available. The overnight charging of PHEVs matches well with wind-generated electricity (the most abundant green power), the majority of which is produced overnight due to wind patterns.
To which we would add, charging off peak hours (ie. during the night) has other benefits. As far as we know, coal power plants are not shut down during the night (unlikes some natural gas plants) and so not using the electricity they produce is almost polluting for nothing. We're not sure about nuclear power plants, but chances are the situation is similar. The main goal would be to clean up the grid over time, of course.
We're sure solar parkings (we wrote about them here) would become quite popular!