Metropolitan King County Councilmember Jane Hague wants the county to study ways King County could provide charging stations for a new generation of hybrids called Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs).
“An estimated 40 percent of greenhouse gases in the U.S. and 50 percent in Washington state come from burning oil for transportation,” said Hague, whose district includes part of Bellevue. “We can make a difference and I’m excited to help lead the local effort to combat climate change by making ownership of electric vehicles more practical.”
Hague is a member of the council’s Transportation Committee.
PHEVs are the next generation of hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius. Regular hybrids still use 100 percent gas to function, but use less of it by augmenting battery power. PHEVs, however, have much larger storage capacity for electricity so that the car can run for much longer, using less fuel as compared to regular hybrids.
Nationally, many people still are driving alone to work, regardless of fuel prices, Hague noted. The prototype PHEVs and those to be released in 2009-10 by major car companies are able to drive up to 100 miles on battery power alone.
“The ability to drive 100 miles on battery alone combined with the option of charging your plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle at a Metro Park-n-Ride or other county facilities means that people could drive their entire workday without releasing harmful emissions,” Hague said.
There are also opportunities for citizens to purchase kits that convert stock hybrids to PHEVs. As technology and the market for these cars improve, having an electric car will become much more of a real and affordable option for consumers, Hague said.
“Utilities recognize the great potential for electric hybrids to reduce CO2 emissions from the transportation sector,” said Tom MacLean, manager of Green Power and Emerging Technologies at Puget Sound Energy. “PSE is undertaking a study that will identify the important aspects of the interaction between hybrids and the electric grid, since electric hybrids will lead to greater load for all utilities and we need to make the transition as efficiently as possible.”
Hague said it is the county’s responsibility to lead the way in providing the public with opportunities for improving the environment and to reduce dependence upon foreign oil.
“This legislation provides an opportunity for the council to be proactive and prepared for what’s around the corner as opposed to reactive.”
The plan would be submitted to the council by September 15, 2008.