A (not so) electrifying vision!

Referring to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill as an “epidemic” in his first Oval Office address, President Obama yet again called the nation’s attention to the urgency of embracing a “clean energy future”.
In the wake of the oil-spill there seems to be a renewed interest in a discussion about America’s energy future. Here at Planet Forward we have been driving an informed conversation around how this can be done. In keeping with our commitment, Planet Forward host Frank Sesno asked Marc Spitzer of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) about the next steps forward in dealing with our energy future.

Spitzer makes a very strong case for plug-in vehicles as the new mantra. He is confident that America has the technology for powering 20-million plug-in vehicles in the next five years.

But is it all that easy? May be, may be not.
There is
fear that using grids to charge thousands of plug-in vehicles could cause a blackout in neighborhoods where the power grids are not equipped to deal with the additional load. The other tricky question is calculating how eco-friendly are these vehicles? If one were to go by the estimates of California Air Resources Board, it suggests that a kilometer’s worth of PHEV charge should on an average result in just 43 percent as much carbon dioxide as burning a kilometer’s worth of gasoline. So, may be it’s a better choice.

Spitzer also suggests that a so-called plug-in revolution will be ushered in by the people and the key to all this is political will. But, is there incentive enough for a common man to switch over to a plug-in? To his question of political will, it’s ironic that he is hopeful about “political will” despite the fate of the climate and energy bill so far. There are different avatars of the bill in the Congress and the Senate and there still isn’t a consensus on what the tenets of America’s climate and energy bill should be.


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