On April 4, 2006, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a Congressional briefing on the role of flexible-fuel plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) in reducing dependence on foreign oil, decreasing greenhouse gas and other transportation emissions, revitalizing local economies, and lowering fuel costs. The briefing focused on a national campaign spearheaded by the City of Austin and Austin Energy to catalyze the development and deployment of plug-in hybrid technology and provide opportunities for the American auto industry to exert leadership with this new, advanced technology. Speakers included:
Roger Duncan, Deputy General Manager, Austin Energy
Bob Graham, Program Manager, Electric Transportation, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)
William C. Holmberg, Chair, Biomass Coordinating Council; President, Biorefiner
The single largest contributor to America ’s foreign oil dependence is the transportation sector which accounts for two- thirds of U.S. oil consumption. Moreover, the transportation sector is 98 percent dependent on petroleum. Available flexible-fuel plug-in technology holds the potential to dramatically reduce U.S. reliance on imported oil while decreasing air pollution and saving on fuel costs for citizens and businesses.
- Plug-in hybrids can be recharged in standard electric sockets then driven 20 to 60 miles without the use of gasoline. This means the commute of millions of Americans could be completed with the use of little, if any, gasoline. Such savings are critical in these tight economic times.
- Plug-in technology can be combined with existing flexible-fuel technology. The use of biofuels in conjunction with hybrid technology helps further address our nation’s energy security and boosts local economies by utilizing domestic renewable resources - all while helping protect public health by decreasing exposure to harmful air toxics from gasoline.
A shift to manufacturing flexible-fuel PHEVs could be central to revitalization of the American auto industry by positioning domestic automakers as leaders in this emerging technology. Federal and state support of this technology can accelerate commercial deployment. The FY 2007 budget request for the Department of Energy includes $6.17 million for advanced battery development. Moreover, the New York State budget request calls for a $10 million competitive grant program to support research and production facilities for flexible-fuel hybrids and PHEVs.
The National Plug-in Partner Campaign launched nationally on January 24, 2006, was designed to demonstrate to automobile manufacturers that a market for flexible-fuel PHEVs exists today. The National Plug-in Partner Campaign received strong support from nearly 200 state and local governments, utilities, national security, environmental and public interest groups committed to supporting flexible-fuel plug-in hybrid vehicles. With over 650 ‘soft’ fleet orders, the campaign helped to prove that if automakers manufacture PHEVs, Americans will buy them.