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Versatility And Benefits Of Electric Cars Homes Communities

  • By LEED GA, Charlene on Green
charlene_brown_ecoeffect_radioCharlene interviews Edward Kjaer, Director, Electric Transportation, Southern California Edison. For much of this century crude oil refineries have had the advantage in the transportation sector, and very well may remain for much of our future. But today, as every major automaker gets on the fast track to mass-produce the electric vehicle (EV) and the plug-in hybrid (PHEV), electricity providers may very soon surpass barrels oil with kilowatts of electricity.

Among automakers, oil producers and power suppliers, hybridization has emerged as the happy medium of the day - leaving the electric car in the dust, but not for long.

Southern California Edison (SCE), one of the largest power suppliers in the state, is already preparing for the demand. "Most unique is that we have had a sustained electric vehicle program for well over 20 years," said Edward Kjaer, director of electric transportation at SCE, "and with 290 clean cars, we have the nation's largest fleet of electric and hybrid plug-in vehicles."

"To get your home ready for a new electric vehicle, determine if the vehicle you intend to purchase will require an upgrade to your home's electrical panel and wiring. Equipment requirements vary from car to car, the service levels vary from house to house, and standards vary from city to city," said Steven Powell, Manager, SCE Plug-in Electric Vehicle Readiness.

According to Kjaer, SCE has been ahead of its competitors with its Electric Vehicle Technical Center in Pomona, California, which has been in operation since 1993. The company began deploying EVs in 1998 by leasing a fleet of Toyota RAV4 small electric sports utility vehicles. But in 2003 SCE nearly lost its entire plugin fleet.

In the most humiliating retreat to the past, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) postponed its mandate for zero-emission cars in California, giving way to resistance from big automakers, namely General Motors, Honda and Toyota.

The result of CARB's action, or inaction in this case, had terrible consequences for electric car drivers and supporters. GM for example, decided to pull the plug on its EV1 cars in 2003 - which consequently became the subject of the 2006 award-winning documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car?" Central to the movie is the challenges and views of EV1 drivers and their unsuccessful appeal to save the cars from the crusher.

Automakers ignore strong consumer demand for electric cars in the marketplace. Instead, automakers refused to listen and claimed the cars were not fit for the road. On the defense, the EV1 drivers testified that the EV1 and the RAV-4 were in fact roadworthy in terms of safety, battery capacity, reliability and style.

GM still crushed all its EV1s. The RAV-4 and other electric vehicles would have suffered the same fate had Plug In America not step in. This influential group launched a massive campaign, Don't, to stop Toyota from crushing the vehichles.

The RAV-4 made up the larger portion of SCE's fleet that helped the company to comply with the state requirements that a percentage of a utility provider's vehicles be powered by alternative fuels.

Kjaer stated, "We had a dialogue with Toyota. We came to an agreement that SCE would continue its lease of the RAV4 until the vehicles came to the end of their useful life, at which time we would return the cars to Toyota. It just made sense."

With a $33 billion dollar portfolio and serving 14 million people and businesses, SCE is on the hook to reinforce its aging infrastructure to provide reliable services not just for the projected demand from the growing population, but also for the anticipated increase from electric-driven cars connecting to the grid.

Powell said, "we've studied and are preparing for the impact on our power systems and we're putting plans in place to ensure we are ready when the new electric cars show up in greater numbers starting at the end of this year." Call: 626-200-9994

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